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Pediatric Medical Device Innovators Receive PPDC Seed Grants

Published on February 20, 2015 in Cornerstone Blog


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The Pennsylvania Pediatric Medical Device Consortium (PPDC) announced that it will provide seed grants of $25,000 each to three companies to transform their innovative ideas into commercial devices that benefit young patients.

The PPDC brings together engineers and biomedical researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania to address the shortage of medical devices designed for children. In addition to financial support, they provide clinical, business, and regulatory expertise to help overcome common hurdles of commercialization. Nineteen organizations responded to the PPDC’s first request for proposals in June 2014.

“Our request for proposals sought projects from academia and industry from around the globe,” said bioengineer Matthew R. Maltese, PhD, the PPDC’s executive director and principal investigator. Dr. Maltese also is director of Biomechanics Research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as an adjunct assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “All projects were rigorously reviewed by our clinical and industry experts, and we are excited to fund these innovators of promising medical devices for children.”

The three PPDC awards will help to advance the development of medical devices that aim to improve pediatric care for jaundice, ear infections, and prosthetic limbs:

  • The Bili-Hut, proposed by Little Sparrows Technologies, is a portable, high-intensity phototherapy device designed for use in medically underserved areas to treat newborns with neonatal jaundice. The condition responds to phototherapy, typically provided by fluorescent lights. The Bili-Hut offers a three-pound, collapsible enclosure that uses low-energy-requiring LED lights, enabling use with either line power or alternative sources such as a 12-volt battery.
  • OtoNexus Medical Technologies designed a handheld ultrasound tool to detect and identify the type of fluid behind a child’s eardrum, which is crucial to correctly diagnosing middle ear infections, called otitis media. Obtaining more accurate diagnoses for otitis media — currently half of diagnoses are in error — could lower unnecessary antibiotic usage and reduce medical costs.
  • RasLabs is using a polymer-based material to line the socket of a pediatric-sized artificial leg or other limb in order to provide a more snug fit during normal daily use. The material contracts or expands like muscle, in response to low-voltage electricity.

The PPDC is one of seven regional pediatric device consortia that received funding from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the unmet need for child-specific medical devices. Pediatric medical device innovators’ next opportunity to apply for a PPDC grant will be in March.

Read the full press release.