Written by Barb Consiglio.
Our bodies have a natural defense mechanism to protect the brain from toxins in the bloodstream, what doctors call the brain-blood barrier. Normally the barrier helps protect the brain, but in the rare case of brain tumors it does the opposite, preventing medicine from entering the brain and reaching the tumor. To address the problem, Infuseon Therapeutics in Cleveland, Ohio, offers the Cleveland Multiport Catheter (CMC), a device that bypasses the brain-blood barrier and carries cancer medication directly to the tumor.
“We are able to infuse medication through several tiny catheters, which means a greater volume of therapeutics reaching a larger area of the brain than any other treatment option,” said Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Infuseon Therapeutics.
The CMC is a surgical implant device that is placed into and around a tumor with small ports used to deliver medication slowly over the course of two to four days. It was manufactured in partnership with Cleveland’s Parker Hannifin, and clinical trials are currently being completed at the Cleveland Clinic.
“The device worked well for patients in the trial because the medication is infused extremely slowly to allow the brain to absorb the extra fluid,” said Vogelbaum. “We can suture the device into place during treatment and remove it days later, really lengthening the amount of treatment time beyond surgery.”
Vogelbaum developed the technology for the CMC while working in the neurological surgery department at the Cleveland Clinic. After creating the prototype of the device, he partnered with the hospital to start Infuseon Therapeutics with the goal of getting the device to market quickly.
The company received a $150,000 Technology Validation Start-up Fund grant from Ohio Third Frontier which helped them build partnerships with companies that develop cancer therapies. Vogelbaum says the FDA reviews drugs and drug delivery devices together, so Infuseon Therapeutics will partner with pharmaceutical companies when applying for approval.
“The CMC can be used with all types of cancer medicine, so our goal is to identify pharmaceutical companies with a promising new treatment that can be delivered using our device,” said Vogelbaum.
Infuseon Therapeutics continues to conduct trials using different medications with the CMC, and plans to launch additional clinical trials in the next year with new devices that help deliver medication to the brain. The company will hire a clinical trial support team that will travel to different hospitals to be on site when the devices are tested.
Vogelbaum says Cleveland is the ideal city for any medical device company, with world-class hospitals and research organizations providing the facilities, services and talent needed to conduct research for FDA approval. He says there are also resources on the business side that have helped take the technology from a concept to the operating room.
“The support we received for the initial commercialization and business development has been incredibly valuable,” said Vogelbaum. “It’s allowing us to deliver treatment that has never been possible before. It’s truly a groundbreaking practice, developed here in Ohio, that will save lives and change the way brain tumors are treated.”