Medical device company OnLume obtained $749,000 in its first round of venture funding on May 17, 2019 from an undisclosed source to further develop its platform.
This spinoff company from the University of Wisconsin–Madison was previously financed via a $300K Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and a UW–Extension SBIR Advance Matching Grant Fund through its partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the University of Wisconsin System.
OnLume aims to directly address an issue faced by surgeons employing techniques guided by fluorescence imaging that involves the precise targeting of tissues of interest with fluorophores. Fluorophores are compounds that emit fluorescent light that can be conjugated to molecules designed to tag certain types of cells in a patient who receives them intravenously during a medical procedure.
The tissue comprising these cells thus becomes labeled with the fluorescent marker which physicians can then detect using specialized scanning equipment. This tissue could, for example, be cancerous and designated for extraction from the body. However, the fluorescence image-guided surgery (FIGS) that is necessary to remove the cancer can be difficult to perform under the typical ambient lighting of the operating room as the tagged tissue is not easily distinguished under the bright lights.
“What we see is that surgeons often need to dim the lights when performing fluorescence-guided procedures,” explains Dr. Adam Uselmann, co-founder and CEO of OnLume, in a prior press release. “We think that we have a good solution to the ambient light problem.”
He further elaborated, “The idea behind it was that if you synchronize your detection technology with your lighting, you’d be able to have both the room lit and detect the dim signals. Our system creates images based on both fluorescent and white light. If you don’t have a well-lit operating area while the imaging is being done, you can’t put the fluorescence into context with the surgical site.”
OnLume was launched on March 2015 by Uselmann, a medical physicist and engineer, along with his mentor, Dr. Rock Mackie, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Mackie has an established record of success in the healthcare-focused business sector. Dr. Ben Titz, Dr. Andreas Velten, and Dr. Kevin Eliceiri round out the founding team with their collective expertise in translational research, oncologic molecular imaging, software design as well as in advanced optical and computational techniques for cancer imaging.
The FIGS technique with the OnLume system may also be used in other surgical procedures that require a guided approach, such as angiography or for blood flow monitoring of using fluorophores as contrast indicators during tissue reconstruction.
For more information on this company, visit www.onlume.com.
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