MEI is developing cancer-treating ablation devices, too, specifically for liver tumors treated through open surgery, but its path has been less straightforward. Also derived from UW research, MEI's SwiftBlade-A features a circle of blade-shaped electrodes that surround a tumor with radio-frequency energy, clotting the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the tumor.
"Tumors require a very large amount of oxygen," said MEI chief executive
Another MEI tool, the SwiftBlade-R, has linear electrodes that coagulate a wall of tissue in the liver before a tumor is surgically removed. That reduces the amount of blood loss to about "golf ball-size" and cuts the normal four-hour procedure time to two hours, Schmidt said.
MEI was formed in 2005 by a group of UW professors, and its SwiftBlade-R device has been tested on pigs. Schmidt said the design is being refined for use in human patients, hopefully, by the end of the year.
He said he plans to apply for
Schmidt, who handled product development at
"Everybody is very excited about the project, but when it comes down to making a deal, their heart is not in it. They'd rather fund iPhone apps," he said.
It took Eso-Technologies CEO
Eso-Tech put heart monitoring sensors on a device that already goes in the throat during cardiac surgery, eliminating the need to thread a catheter through blood vessels, a procedure that causes thousands of serious complications every year, Reinke said.
The grand prize winner in the 2009 Governor's Business Plan Contest, the company, formed in 2008 based on
Finding investors is tough, Reinke said, so she has started talking to larger medical device companies, to see if they'll partner with Eso-Tech or buy the business. "I just believe that is probably the most expeditious manner to get this technology into clinicians' hands," said Reinke, a former GE Healthcare manager.
'PT for the tongue'
Another group of medical devices being developed in the
It took a broken leg in 2011 to prompt
"We're in very deep testing mode," Buinevicius said. "Everything's looking really good." He said he hopes to register the Rowheels chair with the
A former biomedical engineer, Buinevicius said the company has raised
"I think there's a lot of interest from investors -- if you find the right type of investors," he said.
Swallow Solutions has raised more than
"We're basically providing physical therapy, or isometrics, for the tongue," said
Swallow Solutions moved into bigger space at
Re, a fledgling company working on a prosthetic hand, is still in its very early stages. UW-Madison student
Sector67 maker space using 3D printing.
Ronning is still refining the design and plans to send the latest prototype for testing at an
"I've been tinkering my whole life with things, but developing a product is a lot of work," Ronning said.
Merlin Mentors' Sivesind likened the blossoming specialized medical device industry in the
"The idea in both of these business development strategies was to be smaller and adaptable in technology development, to go after lucrative market niches that don't require extensive sales distribution networks and be the first or second company selling a product," Sivesind said.
Both sectors also benefit from the UW-Madison's clinical testing facilities and strong patent and licensing background, said the
Ultimately, the bottom line on the potential
success of any medical device cluster here may lie in the reality of demographics, Rowheels' Buinevicius said.
"The aging population is going to be driving the ... demand for medical devices. Innovative devices that are faster and cheaper, I think, are always going to be required," he said.
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