Written by Kevin Volz.
Blood clots are a dangerous problem. Doctors can treat them in many ways, from oral medications to IV treatments. For some patients with large clots, the best option may be to go into the blood vessel and remove the clot completely. Current removal devices are complicated to use and are not able to remove the entire clot — so while they may help the problem, they don’t solve it completely.
Toledo, Ohio’s, Thermomorph has developed a device called QuickFlow PE that captures and removes blood clots. The company is specifically targeting clots in the pulmonary arteries, causing a blockage in the lungs called pulmonary embolism. QuickFlow PE removes clots mechanically using a catheter during a minimally invasive procedure.
“The catheter enters through the femoral vein and travels through the heart until it gets to the pulmonary artery,” said Mohammad Elahinia, CEO of Thermomorph. “Our device then uses suction and mechanical removal to capture the clot and pull it out of the body.”
QuickFlow PE reduces the risk of complications like internal bleeding that come with using anticoagulants or other medications to dissolve the clots. It also cuts down on the time needed for a clot removal procedure, and is less expensive for the patient and the hospital. The company’s main customers are hospitals, where interventional radiologists, interventional cardiologists and vascular surgeons can use the device.
Thermomorph is a spinoff company from the University of Toledo (UT), where the device was created at the school’s engineering and medical colleges. Elahinia is a mechanical engineering professor at UT, and helped develop the materials used to create QuickFlow PE after a meeting with Chris Cooper, an interventional cardiologist at the university. Dr. Rajesh Gupta, another interventional cardiologist at the UT Medical Center, is also part of the Thermomorph team.
“Chris and I wanted to create this device based on the difficulties he noticed in his daily practice when it came to having a safe and effective treatment for patients with pulmonary embolism,” said Elahinia. “This technology was designed to help doctors save patients’ lives.”
Thermomorph has received a series of grants from Ohio Third Frontier to develop QuickFlow PE. The initial funding was used to invest in a 3D printer for nitinol, the material used to create QuickFlow PE. The printer allowed Elahinia to make the first prototype of the device. Thermomorph also received both a $50,000 Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF) Phase I grant, used to do laboratory testing of QuickFlow PE, and a $150,000 TVSF Phase II grant, which is currently being used to make more prototypes and do more testing so the device can be moved toward market introduction.
“Our goal is to use the TVSF Phase II funding to prepare ourselves to approach the FDA and start the approval process,” said Elahinia.
Elahinia says he is fortunate to do research in a state that supports the creation of new companies based on work done at universities.
“What we have in Ohio is unique,” said Elahinia. “I talk to colleagues from across the country that live in states that are just now trying to start what Ohio has already accomplished. We have one of the best programs for taking university-based technology and getting it to market. The support from Ohio Third Frontier creates an environment of innovation.”