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This Device Could Reduce Needle Sticks for Children

Eric Stone vividly remembers the pain and anxiety of receiving multiple needle sticks when he was hospitalized as a child with Crohn's disease.

Stone has gone on to co-found a company that has invented a needle-free blood draw device. The device would reduce pediatric patients' needle sticks to the one that allows insertion of patients' ubiquitous IV.

Velano Vascular's co-founder and president, Dr. Pitou Devgon, invented the device, which draws blood through that IV. The patented device, which has not yet received FDA approval, has won more accolades and funding.

Startup PHL, a Philadelphia grant-making fund dedicated to supporting fledgling companies, recently gave Velano Vascular $400,000, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The company is co-headquartered in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The device could also help reduce pain for the elderly and for diabetics, Stone told the Inquirer. The CEO of Velano Vascular previously launched the world's first bioabsorable stent for Abbott while in Belgium and California, and was a founding member of Model N's (NYSE: MODN) Life Sciences division, according to the company's website.

The two-year-old startup has not released information about its technology, Stone told the Inquirer.

Velano Vascular also won a $50,000 award in October from the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., according to a statement released by the institute. The institute's mission is to make pediatric surgery more precise, less invasive, and pain-free.

"Currently, the development of pediatric surgical and medical devices lags significantly behind the development of adult devices," Dr. Peter Kim, vice president of the institute, said in the statement.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration agrees.  The agency last year awarded $3.5 million in grants for pediatric device development.

Most traditional medical devices are designed for adults. While some can be used by infants and children, the unique anatomies of pediatric patients can make it difficult to ensure device are safe and effective for them. The small market size for pediatric devices also hinders their development. FDA officials gave the grants to seven research consortia across the United States.

The researchers were tasked with determining if a proposal has medical or scientific benefit; guiding project development and design, providing device training and post-marketing device issues. In addition, the consortia will provide guidance on project development, device training, post-marketing device issues, and sales.

Kim, of the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation, was one of the grant recipients. Some companies are leading the way with products for the pediatric market as well. For example, Novo Nordisk landed FDA clearance for an insulin injection pen designed for children.

Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at BIOMEDevice San Jose, December 3-4, 2014.

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

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