A medical device startup commercializing a Purdue University innovation that delivers localized oxygen directly to wounds to promote and accelerate healing has received a $30,000 investment from a Texas health care seed accelerator.
Mednoxa Inc., which has developed an over-the-counter restorative oxygenation wound dressing for ulcer and wound healing, was among nine health care companies selected to receive funding, mentorship, and in-kind services from Dallas-based Health Wildcatters as part of a 12-week accelerator program.
“This money will allow us to continue to develop our product, which will enable us to raise more money,” Mednoxa founder Eric Frey said. “We also will use some of the money to begin the 510(k) regulatory clearance process with the Food and Drug Administration.”
Mednoxa is developing a flexible wound dressing that generates oxygen and provides controllable, accurate delivery of oxygen to wounds to stimulate and promote tissue growth. The technology is designed to be used on everything from a cut, blister, or surgical incision, to ulcers and burns. Mednoxa licensed the innovation through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.
Among the potential users are more than 30 million people in the United States, or 9.4 percent of the population, with diabetes. Diabetics sometimes suffer from chronic wounds and foot ulcers. Diabetes also is the leading cause of nontraumatic, lower-extremity amputations.
“This will help with any type of open wounds, but it is especially useful for diabetic wounds that have a lack of oxygen,” Frey said. “There is already a great demand for this. It’s not uncommon to be contacted through the website by people wanting to try it or buy it.”
Frey hopes to have the novel, oxygen-based bandage on the prescription market in 12 months and the over-the-counter market shortly thereafter.
As part of the Health Wildcatters program, Mednoxa executives will be taking part in a program in Dallas that will pair them with mentors and partners to work on their business model, product development and business development.
Mednoxa is seeking FDA 510(k) clearance to market and sell the oxygenation bandages, with Frey saying proving safety and efficacy will be key. Frey said unlike drugs, where makers need to go through multi-year testing before receiving FDA approval, his medical device can be cleared through the much faster, pre-market notification pathway and cleared before clinical studies are complete.
Frey said Mednoxa is looking for investors, collaborators and partners and he’s hopeful the Health Wildcatters program will help.
“We expect to come out of Health Wildcatters in December with the funding a resources we need to reach out next commercialization milestones,” said Frey, who started Mednoxa while studying at the University of Texas at Austin in the McCombs Business School Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program.
Mednoxa in May expanded its team to add microbiologist Evan Skowronski as chief scientific officer.
“He has a lot of experience on the science side, so he’ll be extremely helpful in helping us design studies and trials,” Frey said. “He has a particular interest in using the oxygen that we produce to fight and prevent infection, which is why so many diabetic wounds end up leading to amputations.”
Skowronski said seeing the crushing toll diabetic foot wounds took on a family member inspired him to join Mednoxa.
“This is a huge and largely unaddressed problem, so any way to improve the plight of those affected would literally improve thousands of lives,” Skowronski said. “The approach Mednoxa is taking is elegantly simple, directly applying topical oxygen to supply to deficit caused by poor circulation.”
Also in May, Mednoxa was among eight Purdue-affiliated startups selected to receive $20,000 each from the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund, operated jointly by officials from the Purdue Foundry and Elevate Ventures. The funding is used by entrepreneurs to advance their startups and innovations through various commercialization activities including market research, product development and prototype creation.
Criteria to receive funding include being a Purdue Foundry client; founded by Purdue students, faculty or staff; and/or being based on intellectual property patented through the Purdue Research Foundation. Companies also are evaluated on additional factors, including market potential, operational viability, return potential and their leadership team.
The Black Award may also qualify the startups to apply for a Gold Award, which is available in amounts up to $80,000 through a convertible debt or equity investment, upon reaching pre-established milestones determined jointly between the startup and the Purdue Foundry.