News Article

Infusion device gets $1.47 million Army grant
Date: Jan 20, 2012
Author: Michael Sheffield
Source: bizjournals ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Infusense LLC of Nashville, TN

A partnership between University of Memphis and University of Tennessee Health Science Center professors has resulted in a $1.47 million grant from the U.S. Army and the birth of a new company.

Infusense, a company launched by Ed Chaum, professor of retinal disease with UTHSC, and Erno Lindner, a professor of biomedical engineering at U of M, is working to create an automated delivery system for Propofol, a powerful anesthesia used in more than 70 million surgeries and procedures around the country every year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently requires Propofol to be administered by anesthesiologists during surgeries, but the U.S. Army commissioned Chaum and Lindner to work on the delivery method so it could be administered to wounded soldiers by medics in the field.

Chaum says the Infusense system is an intravenous catheter that uses biomedical sensors to monitor the amount of Propofol in the blood stream, which would prevent a potentially fatal overdose.

"When soldiers are wounded, they die of acute blood loss and shock, but if you can prevent the shock, they survive," Chaum says.

In addition to funding from Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Center for Nanotech Science and the Army's Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center, Infusense has received $100,000 from the Tennessee Technology Development Corp., which provides funding for promising new companies in the state.

Lindner has worked on applications for these biomedical sensors in nanotechnology research for the last few years. The sensors would be attached inside the catheter that the drugs run through. As blood passes through the needle, the sensors create what Chaum calls a "closed loop" because they can tell exactly how much of the drug is in the system. Current automated systems are in use in Europe and Asia, but those have to be constantly monitored to prevent an overdose.

Chaum says the Infusense system is currently being tested on large animals such as pigs. If those are successful, it could be tested on humans before the end of the year. Those tests could be helped along by the European market, which the FDA allows. If the product is approved, Infusense would sell the device to hospitals around the country. The sensors could be fabricated locally and integrated into existing delivery systems.

"We could have a prototype by the end of this year and we could get approval in another year or two," he says.

Lindner says the most important step in getting consistent results over a significant period of time. Current tests are yielding promising results for up to six hours.

Kevin Boggs, assistant vice president of tech transfer with the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, says Infusense is providing a definite solution for wounded soldiers without placing them in any more danger. He says Chaum, who is also involved in another startup, Hubble Telemedical, has existing relationships with local venture capital companies, but his background as a physician allows him to relate on a different level.

Chaum has received a capital investment from MB Venture Partners on Hubble Telemedical, which provides remote diagnostic testing for diabetes patients.
"He understands the market and we need successful technologies that can be spun out into companies," Boggs says. "Dr. Lindner is a thorough and careful researcher so when he says something works, people tend to believe it."