Endomedix, a start-up company housed at NJIT's business incubator, received a $1.4 million federal grant to develop a spray-on gel that surgeons will use to staunch bleeding during brain surgery.
Surgeons can spray the gel onto a surgical site, and the natural bio-polymer solutions in the gel will cohere and control bleeding in the patient within 30 seconds.
The gel can shorten an intracranial surgery by 30- 45 minutes. It will translate into less time for the patient's skull to be open and less anesthesia, reducing both the possibility of infection and morbidity. Shorter surgeries also reduce hospital costs: The new gel is expected to save hospitals more than $3000- $4000 per case.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke awarded the $1.4 million grant to Endomedix to support its research on the gel, technically classified as a medical device. The institute, based at the National Institutes of Health, awards grants through a rigorous peer-review process. The institute had previously awarded an earlier grant to Endomedix for the same project.
Based at the Enterprise Development Center (EDC), Endomedix, has been developing the gel, known as a surgical hemostat, since 2009. Its applied research phase has been successful – the company has two issued U.S. patents on the gel and will begin biocompatibility testing later this year. After the tests are finished, the firm will seek regulatory authorization to begin clinical studies.
"It's exciting to push through milestones toward commercialization and bring savings to hospitals and improvement in a $4 billion surgical market," said Endomedix president and CEO Richard Russo. "Being housed in the incubator has allowed us to partner with NJIT research professors such as Michael Jaffe who lead the nation in biomedical engineering and polymer chemistry."
Having a lab in the incubator has also allowed the firm to hire NJIT graduates. A recent graduate, Piyush Modak, (2010, master's in biomedical engineering), is the manager of research and development at Endomedix, and it has hired other NJIT graduates to refine the chemical properties of the gel.
The hydrogel derives from two polysaccharides that are simultaneously mixed and sprayed onto a surgical site. Once the hydrogel is mixed, it forms an adhesive and cohesive material that gelates within 30 seconds. The hydrogel solutions are made from natural materials and do not contain and blood or tissue components. That makes them highly biocompatible.
Russo said NJIT professors and its graduates are helping his firm to develop a device – the gel – that will enhance medical procedures, reduce hospital costs, and most importantly, reduce infection and morbidity rates.
"The EDC incubator is a great eco-system for a start-up company because it gives us entrée to NJIT research professors, to university instruments and facilities and to bright NJIT grads," said Russo. "And that eco-system supports our drive to bring our device to market and enhance the medical system."