Startups Led By MIT Mechanical Engineers Present Healthcare Options | MIT Information

Healthcare has all the time been ripe for innovation. Whether growing security in working rooms, growing methods to cut back affected person ready occasions or enhancing drug supply, there are limitless alternatives to enhance the effectiveness and effectivity of healthcare. The Covid-19 pandemic made the necessity for these options all of the extra pressing.

“There were a number of MIT startups that addressed issues related to the pandemic,” mentioned George Whitfield, entrepreneur-in-residence on the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. “One firm, Biobot Analytics, developed a expertise to watch the unfold of illness by waste water in sewers. In a case of unimaginable serendipity, they developed this proper as Covid began to unfold.

Another startup impressed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Teal Bio, developed a snug, reusable and clear masks that may be worn by healthcare professionals throughout lengthy shifts. The firm has recognized an a variety of benefits to their design, together with decrease prices, much less waste, and an improved potential to establish feelings. Teal Bio was co-founded by Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE) Leaders for Global Operations alumnus Jason Troutner MBA ’19, SM ’19 and Giovanni Traverso, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT.

Traverso isn’t any stranger to startups. He co-founded seven of them. Traverso, an MD-PhD, is each an assistant professor at MIT and a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His firms vary in dimension from one worker to 140 staff. With the exception of Teal Bio, gastroenterology is the widespread thread that connects its firms.

“These companies are launching systems that make it easier for patients to get drugs one way or another, particularly through the gastrointestinal tract,” says Traverso.

One of the businesses Traverso co-founded, Lyndra Therapeutics, hopes to revolutionize the best way sufferers take drugs. They have developed an oral drug supply platform referred to as LYNX that persistently delivers one, two or 4 weeks of treatment in a single capsule that releases the treatment over a time period. The capsule dissolves within the abdomen and a star-shaped drug supply system emerges.

The arms of the “star” are made from a polymer that holds the treatment and are related to a central core by degradable linkers. Once the dosing interval is full, the linkers disintegrate, the arms separate, and the complete system strikes safely from the abdomen to the small gut, the place it passes by means of the GI tract. The platform is being studied with a wide range of medicine, together with an oral memantine for Alzheimer’s illness.

“Many sufferers want a liked one or caregiver to assist them take oral drugs each day, so giving them the choice to take a tablet as soon as every week or as soon as a month would have a optimistic impression on compliance and have a big impact on their high quality of life,” says Traverso.

Lyndra has raised $240 million up to now. One of the therapies they’ve developed to ship medicine used to deal with schizophrenia has progressed into part two scientific trials.

Clinical trials are an instance of the distinctive hurdles that medtech startups like Lyndra face on their path to commercialization. Agencies such because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health require strict rules that should be met earlier than a medical gadget, drug, or healthcare platform could be offered to finish customers.

“Understanding the regulatory, manufacturing and business challenges that need to be met to launch a successful product is really critical. It speaks to the resources required to actually implement these regulations,” added Traverso. In his first 12 months on the school at MIT, Traverso launched a brand new class, 2.S988 (Translational Engineering), which goals to introduce these important components to college students.

Ellen Roche, an affiliate professor of mechanical engineering, is at present attempting to find out regulatory wants for her personal startup. In May, she received the grand prize on the inaugural MIT Future Founders Initiative Prize Competition for her pitch.

Roche has developed a minimally invasive expertise that occludes the left atrial appendage in sufferers with atrial fibrillation. The expertise, which she developed with Harvard University professor Jennifer Lewis, reduces the possibility of blood clots breaking free, stopping a stroke.

“The Future Founders Program has been invaluable in refining the vision for our company and identifying the right regulatory and commercial path for us to move forward,” mentioned Roche. “Creating a pitch deck forced us to really think about aspects like our bridgehead market, our clinical target audience, our funding and IP [intellectual property] strategy and at the same time access to a network of experts.”

In September, Roche and her crew additionally received the Lab Central Ignite Golden Ticket to assist startup founders from historically underrepresented teams within the biotech trade.

Both Traverso and Roche have served as mechanical engineering class 2.75 (Medical Device Design) instructors together with Professor Alexander Slocum and Nevan Hanumara. The class culminates in a challenge during which college students collaborate with clinicians from Boston-area hospitals and trade representatives to design medical units that handle a selected drawback. Throughout the lesson, regulatory specialists introduce college students to the distinctive challenges of beginning a enterprise or launching a product within the healthcare trade.

A 2.75-year-old former pupil, Adam Sachs ’13, co-founded the startup Vicarious Surgical. The firm has developed a robotic system that permits minimally invasive surgical procedure. A digicam and two robotic devices enter the stomach by means of a dime-sized incision. The surgeon can then function with a 360-degree view of a affected person’s physique.

“Course 2.75 gave me an in-depth understanding of the entire medical device design process, which was incredibly valuable when we founded Vicarious Surgical. It helped me understand a user’s needs, showed me how to deliver a product, and allowed me to dip my toes into the process of developing a device from start to finish – many of which I still refer to as the company grows and we continue to evolve our system,” says Sachs.

Vicarious Surgical, primarily based in Waltham, Massachusetts, and at present using simply over 200 full-time staff, is within the improvement course of. They have obtained optimistic suggestions from surgeons about their Beta 2 prototypes. After acquiring applicable FDA approvals, Sachs and his crew plan to market their product to be used in hernia and different basic surgical procedures.

Traverso sees mechanical engineers, resembling himself, Roche and Sachs, as significantly suited to launching medtech startups.

“A large part of our program is hands-on experience, which we introduce and nurture through many of our course offerings. I think that’s so valuable when you’re developing a device that interacts with another human being,” he says.


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