Written by Kevin Volz.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but thanks to the introduction of catheters and minimally-invasive implantable medical devices such as stents, there is new hope for patients. While these tools have been helpful in overall survivorship rates, they have created a new problem. Surgeons must rely on x-rays to place them in the body, which can lead to harmful radiation exposure for both patients and doctors. In addition, x-rays create poor quality images of soft tissue, meaning arteries are barely visible to surgeons. Centerline Biomedical in Cleveland, Ohio, has developed a 3D navigation system that provides clear, sharp images to help doctors place minimally-invasive catheters and devices in a patient’s body without exposure to radiation.
The system, called IOPS (Intra-Operative Positioning System) is a GPS-like surgical tool that provides medical experts with a virtual reality view of the procedure they’re performing on a computer screen — without using x-rays. This helps protect the surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses in the room who perform hundreds of these surgeries each year. It also improves surgical accuracy, which is key during heart procedures, with many failed surgeries the result of imprecise placement of stents.
“Our technology helps simplify surgery, reducing everyone’s exposure to harmful x-rays and the time the patient is on the table,” said Vikash Goel, Centerline Biomedical’s Chief Technology Officer. “Less time in the operating room means lower healthcare costs for patients and hospitals.”
Centerline Biomedical was founded in 2014 as a spinoff company from the Cleveland Clinic. The company’s technology started as part of Goel’s graduate thesis research at Cornell, where he studied computer graphics technology and how it could be used to visualize arteries from a CT scan. He connected with Dr. Roy K. Greenberg, a renowned vascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, who was looking for a way to design customized treatments for patients that could be placed accurately and efficiently. Goel moved to Cleveland to develop this technology.
“It wasn’t until we started collaborating in Cleveland that we found radiation exposure and impaired vision during heart procedures was a bigger deal than anyone had realized,” said Goel. “Endovascular surgeries were becoming more common, and doctors were doing them more often. We wanted to create something to minimize the risks.”
Centerline Biomedical received both Phase I and Phase II Technology Validation and Start-Up Fund (TVSF) grants from Ohio Third Frontier. The funding was used for initial development and prototyping work. The company also works closely with the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center (GCIC), a northeast Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. GCIC works with medical innovators across the state to help develop new cardiovascular technologies and make them available to medical practitioners worldwide.
“Our offices are housed within GCIC, and we have completed our first preclinical study using their lab facilities,” said Goel. “They’ve helped us with market research, fundraising and product development. We have access to top financial partners who are really excited about our technology. Plus, Cleveland’s strong reputation in the healthcare and life science industries makes it the perfect place for a startup like Centerline Biomedical.”