MediSens Wireless, which in 2009 was one of the first startup companies selected for the UCLA on-campus technology incubator at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), has received funding from a strategic investor in the greater Los Angeles area. The young company, the first to 'graduate' from the incubator, will now set up its own base of operations in Northern California.
The technology incubator was established two years ago to nurture early-stage research and to help speed the commercial translation of technologies developed at UCLA. It was inspired by the success of Nano H2O, a California startup that licensed water purification technology developed by UCLA researchers and conducted proof-of-concept research at CNSI.
MediSens, which focuses on the development and manufacture of personal body-monitoring systems for medical and health applications, moved into the incubator to begin commercializing technology invented by Majid Sarrafzadeh, a professor of computer science and engineering at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and co-director of the Wireless Health Institute at UCLA.
Sarrafzadeh and his team formed the startup when they created a "smart shoe" — a shoe equipped with a device allowing it to monitored remotely, enabling health care professionals to keep track of patients with balance problems, such as those with diabetes or those starting a new medication regime. This technology will be used to develop body-monitoring systems with specific applications for diabetics with peripheral neuropathy — the loss of sensation in the foot — and those with health issues that affect their balance.
MediSens began clinical trials in 2010 on its novel Clinical Movement Assessment System (CMAS), a wireless monitoring technology for assessing muscle and neuromotor functions in the upper extremities. CMAS is designed for a wide variety of medical applications and could potentially benefit health care professionals and facilities specializing in the areas of physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, orthopedics, and physical and occupational therapy, among others.
It is anticipated that the system will provide clinical assessments of fine motor movement, muscle strength, hand-eye coordination and patient responses to treatment. Repeat assessments could lead to early warning and detection of deteriorating conditions.
Additionally, MediSens-patented technology is being implemented on a "smart bedsheet" to monitor patients in bed in real-time, with quantifiably preventative objectives in mind.
According to Behrooz Yadegar, the CEO of MediSens, the company will move to Santa Clara in the Silicon Valley area, where it plans to double its staff — currently at five employees — within a year. At its new base of operations, the company plans to further product hardware and software development and begin marketing and development for its wireless technologies.
MediSens Wireless was the first spinoff from the Wireless Health Institute, which Sarrafzadeh helped create. UCLA's Wireless Health Community is made up of experts from many disciplines across campus, including engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing, public health, and theater, film and television.
The California NanoSystems Institute is an integrated research facility located at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Its mission is to foster interdisciplinary collaborations in nanoscience and nanotechnology; to train a new generation of scientists, educators and technology leaders; to generate partnerships with industry; and to contribute to the economic development and the social well-being of California, the United States and the world. The CNSI was established in 2000 with $100 million from the state of California. An additional $850 million of support has come from federal research grants and industry funding. UCLA CNSI members are drawn from UCLA's College of Letters and Science, the David Geffen School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry, the School of Public Health and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. They are engaged in measuring, modifying and manipulating atoms and molecules — the building blocks of our world. Their work is carried out in an integrated laboratory environment. This dynamic research setting has enhanced understanding of phenomena at the nanoscale and promises to produce important discoveries in health, energy, the environment and information technology.