Short laser pulses of near-infrared light access the superior sagittal sinus through the front and back fontanelles of a baby’s still-forming skull. The technique yields a real-time measurement of blood oxygenation.It has been four years since California’s Consortium for Technology and Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP) was established at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in collaboration with the University of Southern California. Further expanding its reach, the consortium broke through state lines in 2014 with expansion to Houston, Texas to include pediatric experts at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine.

With aggressive focus, CTIP’s project portfolio has quickly grown to include some of the most innovative diagnostic and therapeutic pediatric devices - from a novel ventilation management system that allows healthcare professionals to better monitor respiratory performance data to a sensor module that monitors hydrocephalus shunt’s operational status in real time.

“Pediatric hospitals across the nation are faced with the same dilemma, where clinicians are using adult devices for the needs of children. The consortium helps us fill the gap by encouraging the development of original devices for the pediatric population, as well as adapting adult devices for pediatric use,” said Dr. Chester Koh, director of the Pediatric Robotic Surgery Program at Texas Children’s Hospital and associate professor of pediatric urology at Baylor College of Medicine, as well as one of the co-principal investigators of the $1.5 million grant to CHLA, when it was designated one of seven national consortia funded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pediatric Device Consortia program in 2013.

One of the most recent pediatric projects from Texas to be added to CTIP’s portfolio is a noninvasive brain oxygenation monitor for the NICU developed by Noninvasix, Inc. The Houston-based company utilizes optoacoustic technology to noninvasively monitor brain oxygenation levels in preterm and low birth-weight babies. The system aims to reduce hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy—a type of brain damage that occurs when an infant's brain doesn't receive enough oxygen and blood – which is responsible for 23% of all neonatal deaths and is the precursor for cerebral palsy.

“The need for infant care solutions, especially those designed for the NICU, are more important than ever as the rate of preterm births increases,” said Graham Randall, Ph.D., president and CEO of Noninvasix. “Promising preliminary data, along with a partnership with CTIP, will help us fast track our optoacoustic technology from trials to the marketplace, where it is needed most.”

The company, backed by $2 million in seed funding, recently completed its third generation prototype, which is currently being tested. Noninvasix’s collaboration with CTIP will further accelerate the development of its advanced prototype, provide support through FDA 510(k) clearance and identify strategic paths to market.

“We’re excited to identify promising innovations such as this which support care for children in need. It further solidifies the collaboration between Texas Children’s Hospital and Los Angeles Children’s Hospital to advance pediatric technology development,” adds James Hury, director of Business Development and Planning for Texas Children’s Hospital.