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Students Invent Germ-Killing Catheter, Start Company

Light-Line catheter

Light-Line catheter (Veritas Medical LLC)

21 May 2014. Five medical and engineering students at University of Utah in Salt Lake City invented a new type of catheter that emits high-intensity light killing bacteria before they cause an infection in the patient. The students also formed a new company, Veritas Medical LLC in Salt Lake City to take the invention to market, which received the first-place award at the International Business Model Competition earlier this month at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 93,000 urinary tract and some 72,000 bloodstream infections were reported in U.S. hospitals during 2011, the latest year for which data are available. About three-quarters of urinary tract infections developed in hospitals are associated with urinary catheters, which are used by 15 to 25 percent of hospitalized patients during their stays.

Current and former Utah bioengineering and medical students Nate Rhodes, James Allen, Mitch Barneck, Martin de La Presa, and Ahrash Poursaid developed the catheter that addresses this problem. The catheter combines high-intensity, narrow-spectrum light waves into the design of the device.  In hospital studies, these light waves killed up to 90 percent of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, on surfaces in rooms occupied by burn patients.

The catheter is designed to emit high-intensity, narrow-spectrum waves throughout the length of the device, which targets sites where bacteria may accumulate and colonize. While high-intensity, narrow-spectrum light acts like ultraviolet waves in killing bacteria, it is harmless to humans. The inventors say their tests show the ability of high-intensity, narrow-spectrum light to kill 96 percent of E. coli bacteria

The students began work on the catheter three years ago, and formed Veritas Medical in 2012 to commercialize their invention, which they brand-named Light-Line. They filed for a patent on the technology in March 2013. All of the inventors serve as operating managers of the company, even while some pursue their studies, including advanced or medical degrees.

The device is now being lab tested, but the company aims to begin clinical trials in 2015, with market availability planned for 2016.

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