Ostomy is a procedures that is implemented to treat several conditions, including cancer, trauma and inflammatory bowel disease. The therapeutic approach can be either temporary or permanent, and as normal bowel function is interrupted, it creates many challenges. While the purpose is to treat and reduce patients’ pain and discomfort, it often leads to suffering, including pouch leakage, offensive odor, reduction in pleasurable activities and depression/anxiety. As a result, there is a huge unmet need for solutions that help control complications and improve quality of life.
The London-based startup
is determined to help ostomy patients, and is developing a device called Ostom-i that alert patients when their ostomy pouch is at a point where it should be emptied. The device clips to the outside of the ostomy pouch and uses Bluetooth technology to send a signal to a complementary app on a smartphone that alerts the patients that the pouch is filling up. The app can also create reports on the timings and volume of output, which can help clinicians predict dehydration or blockage potentially leading to readmissions. In addition, the startup has developed an app specifically for healthcare providers that automatically alert nurses when the bag is filling up, to help with care and management of patients. The software provide doctors with quantitative data that can assist in the treatment of patients and could potentially lead to earlier hospital discharge.
Michael Seres developed the technology after undergoing a small bowel transplant, requiring him to spend seven months in the hospital. He reached out to other patients throughout the world to understand how they managed being an ostomy patient. When everybody said they just coped, he bought a few tools off eBay and built a basic sensor. He attached it to his pouch while walking around the hospital, and it turned out to effectively send a signal as he walked around. He was introduced to Adam Bloom, an entrepreneur and pharmacist, and together they founded 11 Health.
Ostomy patients experience many challenges in relation to their quality of life, with leakage and odor being a major source of embarrassment, causing emotional and mental concerns. 11 Health has developed an innovative, yet simple and low-cost solution that can improve the life of hundreds of thousands around the world. Based on firsthand experience and feedback from thousands of ostomy patients, their technology provide non-intrusive and real-time support for patients 24 hours a day, whether they are at home, during daily activities, or in the hospital, significantly improving quality of life. In addition, it give hospitals the ability to know exactly what is happening to their ostomy patients at all times, reducing the time nurses need to spend managing each patient, the use of overflow bags and tubes, while potentially reducing the length of hospital stay.
11 Health was founded in 2013, and they have since raised over £1.2 million and established full FDA 510K approval. In 2014 they won Health Technology company of the year by
Tech London Advocates
, Best Mobile App at the
Annual Hertfordshire Digital Awards
, as well as the Breakout Award at the 2016
AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards
. In addition, the startup has received funding from
, and was part of the 2016-17 cohort of the
Surgery is used to prevent, diagnose, stage and treat cancer. It is the oldest type of cancer therapy, and remains an effective treatment for many types of cancer, with the primary purpose to remove the entire tumor from the patient’s body. However, especially in brain cancers, some cells aren’t limited to the main tumor and can move very quickly into surrounding tissue. Their low density make them difficult to detect with current imaging techniques, lowering the accuracy and outcomes of cancer surgical procedures.
The Montreal-based startup
is developing a handheld surgical guidance tool to improve accuracy in cancer surgery. Based on a set of advanced optical techniques, such as Raman spectroscopy, intrinsic fluorescence and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, together with sophisticated machine learning algorithms, their laser technology measure scattered light to provide more specific information about the molecular makeup of the targeted brain tissue. The results for the probe appear on a laptop within seconds of coming into contact with brain tissue, allowing surgeons to perform more thorough resections. According to the startup, it can with accurately distinguish cancer tissue from healthy tissue in real-time during surgery with a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 91 percent. And the system was tested on patients with grade 2, 3 and 4 gliomas, showing it was equally capable of detecting invasive cancer cells from all grades of gliomas.
Over 250,000 people are diagnosed with brain tumors each year. Scientific literature shows that improvement in patients with brain cancer, including life expectancy, is a result of how much of the cancer has been removed. While traditional imaging technology can easily identify solid tumors, cancerous cells that have invaded healthy tissue on the periphery of the tumor often remain undetected. If these cancer cells remain after surgery, they could lead to cancer recurrence and a worse prognosis. ODS Medical’s innovative technology improve brain cancer surgeries, empowering doctors to make critical decisions in real-time with unprecedented sensitivity, specificity and accuracy. This greater specificity allow surgeons to remove more cancerous cells than previously possible, ultimately improve health outcomes and extend survival rates for brain cancer patients throughout the world. And although the startup is currently focused on using the technology on brain cancer, it could be applied to any solid tumor site that require precise excisions, sparing surrounding tissue and getting cleaner margins, for example prostate cancer.
ODS Medical was founded in 2015 by Kevin Petrecca, chief of neurosurgery and head of the brain cancer research group at the Montreal Neurological Institute, Frederic Leblond, associate professor in Engineering Physics at Polytechnique Montreal, Eric Marple, entrepreneur focusing in fiber optics, and Kirk Urmey, a principle for EmVision LLC. The startup is currently seeking regulatory approval of their technology, and aim to build on their unique platform to become the leader in real-time diagnostics.
1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life time, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, and 1 woman dies of it every 13 minutes. It is well established that early diagnosis is critical in saving lives. In fact, 90% of women diagnosed at the earliest stage survive the disease for at least 5 years, compared to only 15% diagnosed at the most advanced stage.
The current gold standard, mammography, require expensive equipment, experienced radiographers, and is only recommended to women over 45 who tend to have less dense breast tissue. And although it has been widely tested and proven to help reduce deaths by 25% among women who are screened regularly, it is painful, exposes patients to radiation, and have both high false-positive and false-negative rates.
The Bangalore-based startup
Niramai Health Analytics
is determined to create a universal cancer screening method that can detect breast cancer at a much earlier stage than traditional diagnostic methods. Niramai, acronym for Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Learning, uses a non-contact, low-cost device that takes high-resolution thermal images, and the startup has developed a software that utilize machine learning to analyze the images for early and reliable breast cancer detection. The portable and easy-to-use screening tool, called SMILE, has been tested on data from 300 patients and results indicate very high accuracy comparable to current diagnostics available.
Early diagnosis is critical in saving the life of a cancer patient, but the majority of breast cancers in low- and middle-income countries is diagnosed in very late stages. The only breast cancer screening that has proven to be effective is mammography, but it is very costly and is only cost-effective and feasible in countries with good health infrastructure. Niramai has developed an innovative solution that can detect cancer at a much earlier stage than traditional diagnostic methods. The technology remove technological, logistical and cultural barriers that hinder breast cancer screening among women today, and could significantly improve survival rates for all women. It is low-cost, non-contact, painless, free of any radiation and universally accessible, allowing women of all age groups to undergo frequent screening without any side-effects. The startup could bring reliable diagnostics and screening to women all around the world and potentially play a key role in improving outcomes in the battle against breast cancer.
Niramai was founded in July 2016 by Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur, and announced in April, 2017 that they had raised an undisclosed amount of seed fund. The funding round was led by
, Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator
, and the Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal. The startup has started two clinical trials, and are working with multiple partners to make the technology commercially available by mid-2017.
Asthma is one of the major noncommunicable diseases, with some 235 million people currently suffering from it. According to the latest WHO estimates, there were 383 000 deaths due to asthma in 2015, and asthma-related hospitalizations cost over $56 billion a year in the US alone. Although asthma cannot be cured, medication are used to relieve symptoms, control progression and reduce asthma exacerbation and death. In addition, avoiding triggers can reduce the severity of asthma, and better self-management can prevent a majority of asthma attacks and improve quality of life.
The Philadelphia-based startup
is determined to improve respiratory health and help patients better manage the challenges of living with asthma. They are developing Pulmawear, a wearable device that sticks to the chest or back and collects respiratory data, combined with a software platform for data analysis. The wearable device continuously monitor the user’s respiratory status, including frequency of coughs, wheezes, as well as the duration of inhalation and exhalation. The complementary application analyses the respiratory data so that patients can see trends in their condition, track medication use, in addition to include environmental data, such as humidity and pollen count. If any signs of early symptoms of an asthma attack is detected, the user will receive an alert through the smartphone.
Because triggers that cause asthma attacks are individual, and failure to use appropriate medications and adhere to treatment can lead to hospitalization and even death, experts recommend patients to keep diary of symptoms, triggers and use of medicine. Recording this information will help recognize attacks and head them off before becoming seriously ill, and doctors can use it to evaluate how well the treatment plan is working. Strados Labs is developing an innovative hardware and software solution that will improve self-management of asthma. Unlike other solutions currently on the market that only provide a snapshot of information at the point of measurement, or rely on manually writing down symptoms into an app or diary, Pulmawear offer continuous monitoring through its wearable.
The technology improve patient engagement while potentially reducing hospital admissions and associated costs. Most importantly, Strados Labs and their Pulmawear solution help patients more accurately assess asthma control, as well as parents who constantly worry if their child might have an attack. It give doctors quantitative data on whether or not the current treatment plan is working, and the alert provided if symptoms of an attack are detected enable quick intervention to improve health outcomes. The technology put patients’ and their caregivers’ minds at ease, potentially improving quality of life for millions of people.
Strados Labs was founded by Nick Delmonico, Tanziyah Muqeem and Yu Kan Au in June, 2016, after attending a medical “hack-a-thon” in Philadelphia. The startup has since won the
WeWork’s Creator Awards
, Temple University’s
Be Your Own Boss Bowl
, and will take part of
2017 spring cohort of the
RAPID Hardware Accelerator
All cancer drugs cause side effects. The degree and kind of side effects may vary based on what drug type is used, and even vary from person to person on the same drug and dosage. Some side effects are inconvenient and upsetting, affecting patients psychologically and socially, while others are serious life threatening medical conditions that even can occur months or years after treatment. This occur when healthy tissues or organs are affected, and developing new treatments that exclusively target cancer cells and thereby avoid many of the severe side effects of current therapies is of high importance.
The Buffalo, NY-based startup
is developing the next generation of targeted cancer therapies, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Their promising cancer immunotherapy is based on the biologically active drug called Azonafide. The drug both induce cancer cells death and activate the immune system through immunogenic cell death, resulting in dendritic cell activation and T-cell epitope spreading.
The patented, immune-activating drug is attached to a monoclonal antibody, carrying it exclusively to cancer cells and not healthy cells, thereby avoiding many of the adverse side-effects of current cancer treatments. The drug's potency has been validated in multiple cell lines, including colorectal, lung, breast, renal, and other solid and blood cancers, and has shown a unique ability in treating drug-resistant tumor and cancer stem cells, enhancing the long-term eradication of disease.
Traditional cancer treatment is plagued with toxic side effects and a lack of clinical response durability. Oncolinx is developing an innovative solution that could change how we treat cancer. It exclusively target cancer cells, potentially increasing treatment efficacy for multiple cancer types. In fact, the startup has signed multiple partnership agreements with universities and pharmaceutical companies, giving them access to an arsenal of different monoclonal antibodies, which can fight as many as 30 different cancer indications. The unique targeted approach could also help avoid side effects, whether they are inconvenient or life threatening. And although it is still early, with the startup aiming to enter clinical trials during 2017, it could significantly improve quality of life for millions of people who undergo cancer treatment around the world.
Drawing on scientific innovation of the
National Cancer Institute
, Oncolinx was founded in 2013 and launched from the
Center for Advancing Innovation’s
(CIA) inaugural entrepreneurship competition, the
Breast Cancer StartupChallenge
. The startup has since participated in and won multiple prestigious startup competitions, including
Rice Business Plan Competition
. In addition, they have been awarded incubator space from
Mass Innovation Labs
Texas Medical Center’s TMCx accelerator
Below is a video from Rice Business Plan Competition
Mental health is a growing public health concern around the world and is one of the main causes of overall disease burden worldwide. In fact, 1 in 4 families has at least one member with a mental disorder and it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. As our understanding grows it becomes ever more apparent that mental health is crucial to the overall well-being of individuals and communities, and developing new technologies can overcome barriers and increase access to care.
The Manchester, UK-based startup
is a team of clinicians, academics and software engineers that is determined to improve outcomes of mental health problems and promote self-management. Their first product, ClinTouch, is a digital platform that aim to predict and avert relapse in psychosis by collecting real-time symptom data. The app consists of a validated questionnaire that patients answer several times daily, for example asking them to what degree they have felt worried, nervous or anxious. The questions can be personalized to acquire more accurate, relevant and detailed data, and the app features a daily diary function to encourage self-management.
The collected data is wirelessly transmitted to a secure central server several times daily, and can be shared with family and friends, and via web-based interface provide real-time access to responses for clinicians. The symptom data is presented in graphs to better see changes over time, and algorithms alert clinicians when symptoms have reached a personalized threshold indicating imminent relapse, enabling early detection and intervention.
Serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, affect about 2 percent of the adult population, costing billions of dollars worldwide. About 80% of those affected relapse, and about 70% of the costs are on unplanned inpatient care for relapse. Affigo has developed a powerful digital platform that help avert relapse and hospitalization of people with serious mental illness. Tracking symptoms in real-time allow users to gain control of their illness and promote self-management. In addition, it enhance the collaboration with health professionals, allowing them to intervene if the data show signs of imminent relapse, potentially improving efficiency and increasing access to care. Most importantly, the technology could significantly improve quality of life for patients affected by serious mental illnesses, and their family members. It could help them engage and better manage their own health, while giving them peace of mind knowing that their clinician is a click away if symptoms suggest a relapse is imminent.
From research at the
University of Manchester
, the first prototype of ClinTouch was developed already in 2009, and an in-depth randomized, controlled trial was conducted in 2014 providing evidence of clinical benefit for mental health symptoms and ability to pick up an individual’s early warning signs. As a result, Affigo was established in December 2015, and they were part of the first cohort of the
program in 2016. Their technology is adaptable to all
mental and physical long-term conditions that have fluctuating symptoms, and it is currently trialled in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
The left-hand figure is newly-developed smart lenses
with built-in pressure-sensing and glucose-monitoring
sensors. Shown on right is an image of a rabbit, wearing
the smart contact lens. Credit: UNIST
A recent study published in
has proposed the possibility of in situ human health monitoring simply by wearing a contact lens with built-in wireless smart sensors. The smart contact lens sensors could help monitor biomarkers for intraocular pressure (IOP), diabetes mellitus, and other health conditions. The research team expects that this research breakthrough could lead to the development of biosensors capable of detecting and treating various human diseases, and used as a component of next-generation smart contact lens-related electronic devices.
Diabetes is the most common cause of high blood sugar levels. Hyperglycemia is a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose circulates in the blood plasma. If this condition persists for more than two hours, a patient will be diagnosed with diabetes.
Since blood sugar can be measured with tears, many attempts have been made to monitor diabetes with contact lenses. Despite numerous studies in the last several decades, the biggest drawback with conventional smart contact lenses was thought to be poor wearability. The electrodes used in existing smart contact lenses are opaque, and therefore obscure the view when wearing it. Moreover, because they lens-shaped firm plastic material, many people complain of comfort issues with contact lens wear which made wearing them impossible.
Now, researchers have solved these issues by developing a sensor based on transparent and flexible materials. The new smart contact lens sensors use electrodes made of highly stretchable and transparent graphene sheets and metal nanowires.
Using this sensor, patients with diabetes and glaucoma may one day be able to self-monitor blood glucose levels and eye pressure. Through the embedded wireless antenna in the contact lens sensor, patients can also transmit their health information, which allows real-time monitoring of their health conditions, as well. In addition, because the system uses wireless antenna to read sensor information, no separate power source, like battery is required for the smart contact lens sensors.
Intraocular pressure measurement can be achieved using the dielectric layers. The dielectric layer is an electrically non-conductive layer, characterized by polarity that divides both positive and negative charges. The thickness of this layer changes from thinning as the intraocular pressure increases, to thickening as the intraocular pressure decreases. The IOP sensor, embedded in the contact lenses senses this and transmits the information to the wireless antenna.
According to the research team, their newly-developed smart lenses with built-in pressure-sensing and glucose-monitoring sensors could still detect blood glucose and IOP despite the deformation of the contact lenses. The sensor characteristics were also maintained even when exposed to various substances in human tears.
"It was observed that the live rabbit did not show any abnormal behavior when wearing the contact lens sensor," says Joohee Kim, the first author of the study.
The contact lens sensor characteristics are not changed when the lens is deformed. Even when the sensor exposed to various materials in human tears the characteristics were maintained, and flexibility and stretchability were also excellent. Furthermore, since the electronic sensor is inserted into the soft contact lens, the feeling of wearing it is also excellent.
This study can be used to diagnose diseases (diabetes and glaucoma) by implementing two types of transparent electronic sensors in the production of smart contact lens sensors, the researchers said. "We are now a step closer to the implementation of a fictional idea for a smart contact lens in the films, like "Minority Report" and "Mission: Impossible".
Diabetic foot ulcer is a major healthcare concern throughout the world and is one of the most common and serious complications in diabetic patients. Treatment is difficult and expensive, with the average cost per ulcer estimated at $17,000, and a total cost of over $17 billion per year in the USA alone. The healing times can be anywhere from 2 weeks to over a year, and if the ulcer causes severe damage to tissue and bone it may require amputation. This not only double the cost, but have devastating consequences for patients, and developing new technologies that help better prevent diabetic foot ulcers is of high importance.
The Galway, Ireland-based startup
is determined to reduce the burden of diabetic foot ulcers, and is focused on developing a device that can detect and predict their formation. The smart, home-based remote monitoring system resembles an electronic weighing scale that you might have in your bathroom, enabling patients to scan their feet daily. The data is sent to the cloud for analysis using advanced algorithms capable of detecting abnormalities before ulcers develop, providing actionable alerts to both patient and provider.
Diabetes complications include nerve damage and poor blood circulations, making the feet vulnerable to skin ulcers that are difficult to treat. About 1 in 4 diabetics will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their life, and is the number one cause of hospitalization for diabetics. Bluedrop Medical has developed an innovative device that enable early detection of diabetic foot ulcers, making treatment easier while greatly improving outcomes and costs. Early detection can prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations worldwide and save billions of dollars every year in healthcare costs.
The best strategy for preventing complications of diabetes, including foot ulcers, is proper diabetes management and foot care. Bluedrop’s device will not change current strategies, but serve as an additional aid that help patients better monitor and manage their disease, enabling early intervention and treatment if abnormalities are discovered. The startup has developed a powerful digital tool that improve patient engagement and could not only improve diabetic foot ulcer management, but health outcomes and quality of life for millions of people.
Bluedrop Medical was founded in 2015 by the two medical device engineers Chris Murphy and Simon Kiersey, and have since been selected as one of the most innovative technologies in the field of wound care by winning two prestigious
Journal of Wound Care awards
in 2017. The startup has also raised
€600,000 from Ian Quinn and Payl Gilson, two Galway medical device entrepreneurs, together with
Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up fund
. In March 2017, it was announced that Bluedrop is among 8 startups in
Most people may take it for granted, but the balance is vital to physical activity and our well-being. It is often called a sixth sense and is a delicate system inside our inner ear called vestibular apparatus, sending information about the movement of the head to the brain. In coordination with vision and sensory input from muscles and joints, this feedback help maintain balance of the entire body. Multiple disorders cause degradation or damage to the vestibular sense, causing imbalance, dizziness and vertigo, significantly impacting quality of life for many people. Although vestibular rehabilitation therapy may reduce some of the symptoms through compensation by vision and sensory input, the vestibular function cannot be fully compensated.
The Columbia, Missouri-based startup
is developing a noninvasive device to help patients with vestibular imbalance.
Their product, called EquiCue, is a custom-made palate-based intraoral electronic balance aid. The retainer-like device is worn onto the upper teeth, fixed against the hard palate, where it is able to present sensory feedback of head tilting or motion by applying small electrical pulses onto the palatal surface. This alternative feedback provides a stable gravitational reference and help maintain head orientation and postural stability. A complementary wrist watch communicate with the device, enabling the user to wirelessly make adjustments to the device settings.
More than 8 million Americans alone suffer from chronic dizziness due to aging, drug toxicity, viral infections, and surgery, etc. Currently, there is no practical devices available on the market for these patients to compensate for the loss of vestibular function. Innervo is capturing this unique market by offering a wearable retainer that has been shown to dramatically improve balance for patients with profound vestibular loss. The non-invasive, patented device is compact and easy to use, eliminating the need for high-risk and costly inner ear surgery, while allowing free movement of the head and body in indoor and outdoor daily activities. In addition, the intraoral placement of the device also mean that it is not visible, or cause any social stigma.
By improving balance for patients with vestibular loss, the device could significantly improve quality of life for millions around the world. It could enable them to go shopping in supermarkets, take the metro, everyday activities that most of us take for granted, reducing depression, feelings of exclusion and dependence on other people.
Innervo was founded by Hui Tang, who has more than 10 years of experience on development of assistive devices for sensory substitution and rehabilitation, and the startup has received Phase I and Phase II
grants from the
National Science Foundation
. They have previously demonstrated feasibility of the device, and is currently undergoing a clinical study.
10 million people around the world live with limb loss, a number expected to double the next decades. It is estimated that 80% of amputees suffer from a condition known as phantom limb pain, referred to as the sensation of pain in the missing part of the amputated limb. The condition present in different ways, such as burning sensation, a grip or a pain that may vary in intensity, and seriously harm quality of life. It can increase anxiety and depression, as well as impair daily activities and sleep. A number of different therapies, including pharmacological approaches, massage and physical therapy, have been proposed to manage phantom limb pain, however, these are not always effective and are not specifically designed for amputees.
The Delaware-based startup
Vibrating Therapeutic Apparel
is determined to help limb loss patients, and are creating products specifically for phantom limb pain management. They are developing a vibrating device, a sleeve designed to be worn at the end of the residual limb. The sleeve has integrated vibrating nodes, which disrupts the pain signals the brain sends to the amputated limb. The device also include buttons that allow users to increase or decrease intensity and alter the vibration pattern, to optimize treatment efficacy. The technology can even be adapted to all forms of apparels, meaning it can be used by anyone, anywhere.
There is currently no products specifically designed for people with amputated limbs to manage pain. Most amputees use prescription pain medication to treat phantom limb pain, but they can cause severe side effects. Other alternatives are either inconvenient or expensive. In fact, management of phantom limb pain cost on average over $8,000 per person each year. Vibrating Therapeutic Apparel could revolutionize phantom limb pain management with their innovative vibrating sleeve. It does not require any prescription to be purchased, and cost a fraction of the current alternatives on the market. The technology can be adapted to all forms of apparels, enabling amputees to receive treatment 24 hours a day without experiencing any side effects. Most importantly, the technology could significantly improve quality of life for amputees worldwide who suffer from phantom limb pain, giving them their life back.
The startup was founded by Amira Idris after she was interning at a prosthetic clinic during her undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware. Here she came in contact with amputees that left a lasting impact on her, and discovered the significant decrease in quality of life many of these prosthetic clients had due to phantom limb pain. Currently, the Vibrating Therapeutic Apparel team is working with amputees to test and further develop the vibrating sleeve, gaining vital client feedback on the device’s effectiveness, quality and overall feel to ensure they meet the needs of their customers. They aim to launch the product during the summer of 2017.
Vibrating Therapeutic Apparel has previously participated in
First Step Grand Challenge
the top prize in the
Emerging Enterprise Center’s
Swim with the Sharks
” contest, winning access to the incubator’s coaching program and a free six-month membership to the EEC. The startup has also won the College Pitch Philly competition at the
United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship
’s annual conference, the
2017 Hen Hatch competition
and in April 2017 announced they had been chosen for the
Blood cancer affect millions around the world, and every year over 150,000 people are diagnosed in the US alone. After exhausting all options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy, a bone marrow transplant is typically the only remaining treatment option for patients. However, such transplants have a high failure rate due to the body’s rejection of the transplant, complications from the procedure or a relapse of the disease. In addition, it is estimated that 65% of patients who require a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor are unable to find a match.
The London and New York-based startup
is determined to change how bone marrow/hematopoietic stem cell transplants are performed and aim to improve its efficacy. Their technology is based on research by the founder of the startup, Vladislav Sandler, who found that cells similar to progenitors that gave rise to blood stem cells during mammalian developments exists in adults. It also became clear that these cells, called Postnatal Hemogenic Endothelial Cells (PHEC) or Adult
Endothelial Cells (AHE) could be used for regeneration of the blood system, generating new cancer free stem cells.
Their method starts by conditioning the patient prior to transplantation, providing adequate immunosuppression and allow transplanted cells to engraft in the recipient. Traditionally, this has been achieved by administering a cocktail of chemotherapeutical agents, often together with radiation. However, these have severe side effects that can be life threatening. HemoGenyx has developed highly specific CDX antibodies that selectively eliminate
hematopoietic stem cells without the side effects traditionally associated with the preparation
. In addition, the antibodies have shown promise to eliminate malignant leukemic cells.
Then AHE cells are extracted and isolated, either from the umbilical cord and placenta of a donor, or from the liver of the patient. These cells are activated and when intravenously transplanted to the patient, they start to make new blood stem cells that regenerate the entire blood system of the recipient. The approach has shown exciting results in animal experiments, where the procedure has rescued mice from certain death due to bone marrow failure caused by radiation and chemotherapy.
The startup has the potential to revolutionize how bone marrow and hematopoietic stem cell transplants are performed, offering an innovative solution that reduce the limitations of the current standard of care. Their pioneering treatment for multiple blood diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma, will improve treatment efficacy for patients who wouldn’t otherwise be able to find a matching donor. In addition, it could significantly reduce side effects and improve quality of life for patients around the world, giving new hope to patients who have exhausted all treatment options.
HemoGenyx was founded in 2013 and is part of the
Downstate’s Biotechnology Incubator
. They won the 2014
business competition, where they were awarded $250,000, and in 2016 raised $1 million from the private investment firm
. In addition, Vladislav Sandler has received the
Daedalus Award for Innovation
, a $100,000 one-year grant for the development of the HemoGenyx technology.
Rapid diagnosis is key in faster treatment, limiting outbreaks and ultimately improve health outcomes. However, existing diagnostic instruments usually requires sophisticated infrastructure, stable electrical power, expensive reagents, long assay times and highly trained personnel, which is not often available in limited resource settings. As a result, point of care testing represents an important advance in patient care that could provide vital healthcare to low resource settings and developing countries, while decreasing cost and wait-time of current diagnostics in developed countries.
The Philadelphia-based startup
Group K Diagnostics
is determined to revolutionize healthcare, and is developing a low-cost, paper-based point of care diagnostic system, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand. Their main product, the MultiDiagnostic, is a microfluidic platform that can be used with minimal to no training in any setting. The test employs three different types of diagnostic technologies: a lateral immunoflow assay for detecting infectious diseases, isothermal amplification for diagnosing sexually transmitted diseases, and molecular diagnostics that can determine the quantity of a substance or protein in multiple conditions.
A finger prick of blood, or a small sample of urine or sputum, is placed onto the test, which reacts with dried reagents to induce a colorimetric change within 30 minutes. A picture is taken of the test and uploaded to the complementary app to have results analyzed in seconds. Although still early, the test could eventually handle up to 40 different types of tests, with their first assay for liver function expected to begin clinical trials during the summer of 2017.
In spite of technological advancements the last decades, developing countries still struggle with numerous health challenges. Laboratories and medical testing facilities are often limited and inaccessible to most patients, resulting in high mortality rates. Group K is developing an innovative platform that is easy to use, transport, store and ship, and do not require highly trained personnel. The rapid, inexpensive, ultraportable medical laboratory could become the future of diagnostic testing, increasing access to reliable diagnostics worldwide, in any setting. The state-of-the-art technology could lower cost and wait-time of current diagnostics in developed countries, while significantly improving health outcomes, enable faster treatment for multiple diseases and tracking of public health data in low-resource settings.
Group K Diagnostics was founded by CEO, Brianna Wronko and has won ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Most Fundable’ at
Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels’
Pitch Life Science Competition
Philadelphia, in addition to reaching the semi-finals of the
President’s Innovation Prize
Wharton Startup Challenge
. The startup also announced that they had joined
, a community for Penn entrepreneurs to help move their startup to the next level, as well as
Spring 2017 Cohort.
A research team at UC San Diego and Rady
Children's Hospital has developed a sensor-filled
glove to accurately measure muscle stiffness.
Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications
Everyone experiences stiff muscles from time to time, whether after a rigorous workout, in cold weather, or after falling asleep in an unusual position. People with cerebral palsy, stroke and multiple sclerosis, however, live with stiff muscles every single day, making everyday tasks such as extending an arm extremely difficult and painful for them. And since there isn’t a foolproof way to objectively rate muscle stiffness, these patients often receive doses of medication that are too low or too high.
Now, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of California San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital has developed new wearable sensors and robotics technology that could be used to accurately measure muscle stiffness during physical exams. “Our goal is to create a system that could augment existing medical procedures by providing a consistent, objective rating,” said Harinath Garudadri, a research scientist at the university’s Qualcomm Institute and the project’s lead investigator.
The level of muscle stiffness, known as spasticity, is typically evaluated using a six-point rating scale called the Modified Ashworth Scale. This scale is the current hospital standard, but it is subjective and often yields ratings that vary from one doctor to another. These ratings help dictate the dose of medication patients are prescribed to manage their spasticity. Inconsistent and inaccurate ratings can either lead to dangerous overdose or ineffective treatment as a result of doses that are too low.
Patient feedback can also skew these ratings, Andrew Skalsky at Rady Children’s Hospital said. “Sometimes, patients think that they aren’t getting enough medicine and end up being put on a higher dose than they should actually be on. That’s thousands of dollars’ worth of medicine that could potentially be saved.”
Garudadri and Skalsky teamed up with electrical engineers and neuroscientists at UC San Diego to develop a glove equipped with sensors that is a more reliable tool and will enable doctors to come up with objective, accurate and consistent number ratings when evaluating spasticity in patients undergoing treatment.
The device is built on a regular sports glove that a doctor can wear while holding and moving a patient’s limb back and forth. Taped onto the palm are more than 300 pressure sensors that measure the amount of force required to move a patient’s limb. A motion sensor taped on the back measures how fast the limb is being moved. The glove is connected to a computer via USB.
Data from all the sensors are transmitted to the computer, where they are integrated, processed and mapped in real time using advanced signal processing algorithms developed by Garudadri’s research group. The computer provides a numerical reading that calculates the actual power required to move a patient’s limb—the more power needed, the more severe the patient’s spasticity.
“We’re instrumenting the doctor instead of the patients,” said Padmaja Jonnalagedda, an electrical engineering graduate student who worked on refining the algorithms. “It’s more convenient for patients to not have to wear all these sensors all over their bodies. It’s also more practical to equip just the doctor when you think about the large patient to doctor ratio, especially in developing nations or rural areas around the world,” she said.
Researchers built another robotic device that they call the “mock patient” to serve as a control to validate their results. The mock patient consists of an artificial arm that can be moved up and down, simulating the flexing motion of an actual patient’s arm. The artificial arm is connected to a rotating disc that can be manually adjusted to different resistance levels, like bike gears. The arm is embedded with its own set of sensors that measure the power needed to overcome the resistance and get it moving. Researchers can set the resistance, know the amount of power required to move the arm and then test whether the glove produces a matching result.
“The mock patient provides a ground truth to verify that what the glove is measuring is indeed a real number,” said Fei Deng, an electrical engineering graduate student who was in charge of building the mock patient.
an initial study
, two physicians trained in spasticity assessment were instructed to test the glove on five different patients with cerebral palsy. Each physician wore the glove while performing various movement tasks, including flexing and extending the patients’ arms and legs. The physicians were asked to provide their own spasticity ratings according to the Modified Ashworth Scale, without knowing the readings from the glove. They also did not know what spasticity ratings the other was giving.
The research team compared the results. They found that only 27 percent of the physicians’ spasticity ratings agreed with each other. By comparison, 64 percent of the measurements made by the glove agreed with the numbers generated by the mock patient. “This number needs to be higher if we want to deploy our system for use in the hospital, but it shows better consistency than existing spasticity assessments,” Garudadri said.
Researchers say the technology could potentially be applied in other procedures where doctors have to rely on touch and feel to evaluate a patient's condition: monitoring spine health, assessing the severity of hip dislocation in infants, rehabilitation therapy, physical therapy, and more.
Our body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and when faced with a wound most of us take for granted that it will heal. However, millions worldwide suffer from chronic wounds, representing a significant burden to patients, healthcare professionals, as well as the healthcare system. In fact, it is estimated that chronic wounds cost over $20 billion in the US alone. The burden is growing rapidly due to an aging population and a sharp rise in the incidence of diabetes and obesity worldwide, and developing new treatments to fight chronic wounds is of high importance.
The Buffalo, New York-based startup
Garwood Medical Devices
is determined to provide more positive clinical outcomes for patients suffering from wounds. Their technology is based on electrical stimulation, an established and proven methodology to increase rate of healing. While current approaches require expensive, heavy equipment in a clinical setting, Garwood is developing a device called EnerAid, that embed electrodes into a bandage, which sends pulses into the skin with the goal of stimulating healing.
, the startup describe an electrical, programmable bandage consisting of a pad disposed for absorbing bodily fluids, and at least two snap button electrodes. Pulsed electric currents are passed across the wound through the snap button electrodes via an RF transceiver, which can be provided with a mobile device. The transceiver offers continuous exchange of information between the bandage and the mobile device, allowing remote, wireless monitoring of the wound. This not only enable clinicians to monitor the treatment efficacy, but allow them to adjust the output electric pulses to personalize treatment and optimize wound healing.
Although there are a few existing techniques that use electrical stimulation to heal chronic wounds, they require expensive and heavy equipment in clinical settings that often limit compliance rates. Garwood is developing an innovative device that eliminate the problems associated with the devices currently in use, and the small and easy-to-use device could play a major role in the fight against chronic wounds. It help doctors monitor wound healing, personalize treatment, while potentially reducing cost of care. At the same time, it could increase access to care and improve compliance rates, potentially leading to better treatment efficacy, outcomes and improved quality of life for millions of patients around the world.
Garwood Medical Devices, formerly known as Enermed, was founded by Gregg Gellman and Wayne Bacon in 2014, and is part of the
economic development program. They were also a semifinalist of the 2016
business-plan competition, and have received $1.48 million in support from the
University at Buffalo’s Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics
(BIG). In 2016, the startup raised $3.6 million in a Series A funding round from private investors, and was in 2017 awarded $40,000 from
University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics
(CMI). In addition to the wound care device, the startup is also developing devices that target bone growth, and a device that can be applied to implants to recognize when infections are starting.
Chemotherapy is able to treat many types of cancer effectively, and has is many ways revolutionized cancer treatment. Current drug dosing calculations are primarily based on height and weight, and adjustments are made depending on how the patient is feeling. However, this approach significantly raise the risk of affecting healthy cells and cause serious side effects. To optimize treatment efficacy and increase the chance of survival, it is important to find a dosage that kills cancer cells without killing the healthy cells.
The Buffalo, New York-based startup
is developing a platform called CytoComm, consisting of implantable biosensors, that allow wireless monitoring of treatment response in chemotherapy patients. The biosensor is injected just below the skin of the patient, and uses living cells to measure levels of biomarkers, proteins and medications in the cells. The data is wirelessly transmitted to the cloud, where it is analyzed and can be securely accessed at any time, from anywhere. This allow doctors to specifically tailor a course of chemotherapy to the patient, eliminating dramatic swings in administration of medication and reduce toxicity.
Drug toxicity remains one of the most significant barriers to delivery of curative doses of chemotherapy. Successful treatment of most tumor types is based on administration of multiple cycles of intensively dosed chemotherapy. Current approaches of adjusting dose intensity based on how the patient is feeling may achieve some reduction in toxicity, but also decrease the therapeutic effect of the treatment. Efferent Labs is developing an innovative and powerful solution that allow doctors to personalize treatment plans based on real-time physiological data, and get alerted if any issue occurs that need immediate intervention. This means that they can react before the patient feel any physical symptoms, lessening or even eliminating side effects. And more importantly, eliminating the need to stop and restart treatment due to side effects could significantly improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for millions worldwide.
Although the startup is focused on targeting chemotherapy dose monitoring, the technology has multiple applications. It can monitor at-risk cardiac patients, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, as well as providing higher quality data and reducing cost in preclinical testing. The technology could even play an interesting role in future clinical trials, determining optimal doses, and potentially improve treatment efficacy.
Efferent Labs, previously known as Raland Therapeutics, was founded in 2012, based on technology developed at the
University of Rochester
. They have been part of the
Z80 Labs Technology Incubator
Critical Path program
, and won $500,000 in the
43North business competition
. In January 2017, the startup announced they had entered an agreement with
for the continued development and validation of the CytoComm system, and they expect to launch human trial in 2019.
This photo shows the 3D-bioprinted cell patch in
comparison to a mouse heart. When the patch was placed
on a live mouse following a simulated heart attack, the
researchers saw significant increase in functional capacity
after just four weeks.
Credit: Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota
Heart disease kills more than 360,000 people a year, in the US alone. During a heart attack, a person loses blood flow to the heart muscle, causing cells to die. The heart muscle cells can't be replaced, so the body forms scar tissue, which puts the person at risk for compromised heart function and future heart failure.
Now, a team of biomedical engineering researchers has created a revolutionary 3D-bioprinted patch that can help heal scarred heart tissue after a heart attack. The discovery is a major step forward in treating patients with tissue damage after a heart attack. The research was published in
In the study, researchers from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Alabama-Birmingham used laser-based 3D-bioprinting techniques to incorporate stem cells derived from adult human heart cells on a matrix that began to grow and beat synchronously in a dish in the lab.
When the cell patch was placed on a mouse following a simulated heart attack, the researchers saw significant increase in functional capacity after just four weeks. Since the patch was made from cells and structural proteins native to the heart, it became part of the heart and absorbed into the body, requiring no further surgeries.
"This is a significant step forward in treating the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S.," said Brenda Ogle, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. "We feel that we could scale this up to repair hearts of larger animals and possibly even humans within the next several years."
Ogle said that this research is different from previous research in that the patch is modeled after a digital, three-dimensional scan of the structural proteins of native heart tissue. The digital model is made into a physical structure by 3D printing with proteins native to the heart and further integrating cardiac cell types derived from stem cells. Only with 3D printing of this type can we achieve one micron resolution needed to mimic structures of native heart tissue.
"We were quite surprised by how well it worked given the complexity of the heart," Ogle said. "We were encouraged to see that the cells had aligned in the scaffold and showed a continuous wave of electrical signal that moved across the patch."
Ogle said they are already beginning the next step to develop a larger patch that they would test on a pig heart, which is similar in size to a human heart.