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NIH Funds Support for Point-of-Care Device Entrepreneurs

Medical care


12 Nov. 2018. Two institutions in Massachusetts are starting a program to help inventors and new enterprises anywhere in the U.S. bring their point-of-care medical devices to market. The Center for Advancing Point-of-Care Technologies, or Capcat, is a joint venture of University of Massachusetts in Lowell and University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, and funded by a 5-year, $7.9 million award from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI, part of National Institutes of Health.

Capcat aims to encourage designers of medical devices addressing heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders to create point-of-care technologies, and help device developers bring their inventions to market. The founders of the center at UMass-Lowell and UMass medical school cite data from NHLBI showing these conditions account for 41 percent of deaths in the U.S., and impose a direct $400 billion burden on the U.S. health care system.

In addition, say Capcat’s creators, a growing emphasis on accountability and transparency in health care delivery, such as bundled payments based on performance and accountable care organizations, are creating a greater need for faster delivery of diagnostics and better documentation. These needs are enhanced, and in some cases complicated by more involvement of patients in their health care decisions, calling for new evidence-based, user-friendly, and patient-centric, point-of-care technologies.

Among the devices Capcat plans to support are systems to measure blood components, record heart and respiratory rates, and alert patients to changes in disease conditions. “The new center,” says UMass-Lowell biomedical engineering professor Stephen McCarthy in a university statement, “will address the urgent need to bring to market medical technologies and devices that can be used to provide fast, accurate information to patients anywhere they are, empowering them to better monitor their conditions and get on with their daily lives.” McCarthy is co-director of Capcat.

McCarthy is also founder of the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center that will operate Capcat. The project is expected to identify the most promising point-of-care technologies to address unmet medical needs, and help their inventors navigate technical and business pathways to bring their ideas to fruition. Capcat plans to provide training and mentoring, from fellow scientists and engineers, business developers, and legal experts from the two institutions.

Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center has operated labs and R&D work spaces at UMass-Lowell and UMass Medical School since 2007. The organization says it helped more than 100 companies and offers an annual challenge awarding $200,000 in seed funds to promising new ideas in medical device, diagnostics, and biotechnology companies.

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