Watertight closure of the dura mater – the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord – is a difficult and time-consuming procedure. It is typically performed using fine suture down narrow working channels using minimally-invasive surgical techniques. Repeatedly experiencing the complexity of this procedure firsthand, neurosurgeon Neil Roundy, M.D., saw an opportunity to address the problem. Roundy developed an innovative bio-absorbable clip used to close durotomy incisions during spinal surgery. But he needed support to bring his invention to market.
While a neurosurgery resident at OHSU, Roundy learned about the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute’s Biomedical Innovation Program. He applied for a program grant and partnered with an outside contract engineer, Rachel Dreilinger, who developed the prototypes and applied for additional funding to continue development. Together, they formed NeuraMedica, LLC, in June 2014 when they licensed the technology intellectual property from OHSU. Roundy and Dreilinger were able to achieve proof-of-concept designs that led to two patent applications and additional funding.
The current goal of NeuraMedica is to bring the dural clip to market to improve upon the current standard of care – suture or metal clips – both of which have their limitations. Suture is very time consuming to perform and requires magnification in a minimally invasive environment with limited space. Metal clips or staples are occasionally used; however, metal is radiopaque, creating imaging artifacts that block the visibility of the surgical site on follow-up diagnostic imaging. Metal staples and suture penetrate the dura, creating small holes that can lead to cerebrospinal fluid leakage.
In contrast, NeuraMedica’s dural clips are quick to apply, radiolucent, bio-absorbable, and non-penetrating, providing significant clinical benefits for both the patient and the surgeon. To date, NeuraMedica has received grants from OCTRI’s Biomedical Innovation Program and Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, funding administered by OHSU. NeuraMedica has also received significant support from OHSU’s Technology Transfer and Business Development office including connections to key local business advisors and other startup support services. The company is also in discussions with Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash. This relationship was facilitated by biomedical consultant Eric Hanson, who is also helping to prepare applications for non-dilutive funding from the Department of Defense to accelerate NeuraMedica’s pre-clinical testing.
As NeuraMedica continues down the commercialization path, it is seeking additional funding opportunities to catapult its product to market. Near-term goals include the identification of pre-clinical and clinical research partners, opportunities for future investments, and continued product preparation for launch. The NeuraMedica team sees a lot of clinical utility, cost effectiveness and patient value in this device. The team is excited to move this exciting medical device into the hands of surgeons.