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When a cardiologist provides care to his patient, he has at his disposal a number of technologies that allow him to monitor the heart as it is functioning, and prescribe the appropriate treatment immediately. The same can be said for a doctor who needs to monitor the lung function of a patient.
For a physician who is treating a patient suspected of kidney disease, the mission is more complex. For despite all of the advances that have been made in modern medicine, the kidney is the one vital organ that physicians and clinicians cannot monitor in real time. One-year-old St. Louis optical diagnostics company MediBeacon is hoping to change that.
MediBeacon’s technology would allow doctors and their staff to get instant, real-time feedback on the kidney function of their patients.
At present, doctors rely on methodology that calls for the use of blood and urine samples to monitor the function of a patient’s kidneys. Unfortunately, those methods provide information about kidney function that lags anywhere from 24 to 48 hours behind actual kidney change. Present methods don’t provide the direct, accurate and current information that doctors need to provide the earliest and most effective treatment possible.
MediBeacon’s potential game-changing technology uses a combination of fluorescent dyes and an optical sensor attached to a patient’s forehead, finger, or ear. The information provided by MediBeacon’s Renal Function Monitoring System would allow for earlier and more accurate detection of renal issues – a development that would help doctors provide a more accurate diagnosis; would assure patients that they are receiving the best therapies as quickly as possible; and could reduce the length of a hospital stay for patients, thus reducing hospitalization costs.
CEO and co-founder Steve Hanley launched MediBeacon in 2012, after acquiring nearly two-dozen patents from St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt’s optical diagnostic development program, which freed up the technology when it decided it was not at the core of Mallinckrodt’s ongoing imaging business. Hanley spent nearly 20 years working for Covidien, Mallinckrodt’s parent company.
MediBeacon was started with funds from the St. Louis Developent Corporation, the BioGenerator, a nonprofit St. Louis bioscience accelerator program, and the Missouri Technology Corporation. Officials within the St. Louis bioscience sector say the MediBeacon story is a tribute to the recent growth of the St. Louis innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem – saying the infrastructure is now in place that allows for executives of larger local companies to spin off technologies into viable, new ventures.
Market potential for such real-time monitoring could be in excess of $1 Billion.
Human trials are expected to begin this year.
Meantime, there could be another group of patients that could benefit from the technology — our family pets. MediBeacon’s research, based on discussions with the veterinary community – indicates real time and accurate kidney monitoring for domestic animals is a large potential market. Kidney disease is a frequent problem in older cats and dogs, and Hanley says a system in which the kidney function of those animals could be monitored through the use of a dog or cat collar could help veterinarians determine the best course of action for treating the family pet.
MediBeacon’s Steve Hanley will be Charlie Brennan’s guest on the next edition of Innovation Tuesdays on KMOX Radio, 1120 on the AM dial in St. Louis, or at kmox.com on Tuesday, September 17 at 10:50am. Innovation Tuesday is facilitated each week by InnoVox STL.