Medical Device Company Joins UMass Lowell Center

03/27/2006
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

 Or Al  Kyle, Perfusion, 617-834-74201 akyle@perfusiontechnology.com

LOWELL ߝ Perfusion Technology LLC is the first medical device company to locate in the new Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) at University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML).

The M2D2 Center was launched last year with $135,000 in seed funding, awarded by UMass President Jack M. Wilson from the University Science and Technology Fund. It aims to combine the engineering expertise at UML, the clinical and medical expertise at UMass Worcester, and the marketing expertise of the Donahue Institute, a research arm of the UMass President’s Office.

Prof. Stephen McCarthy of UML Plastics Engineering, the director of M2D2, says, “Medical device companies have told the Donahue Institute that they want access and interaction with University researchers. Our response is M2D2. While industry members have been able to approach the UMass system’s faculty and researchers to seek assistance in the past, there has never been any mechanism in place to facilitate this effort. The new Center solves that problem.”

Founded in 2003, Perfusion has been developing technology to deliver drugs to the brain for treatment of brain tumors, stroke and epilepsy. The company has been operating in Lawrence, and is looking forward to re-locating to Lowell.

“For the past two years, we have been working in Lawrence, Boston, Columbus, Ohio and the British Virgin Islands. We are seeking an environment where we have access to the expertise we need, when we need it, for a reasonable cost.  M2D2 has access to a faculty with deep expertise in life sciences, animal laboratories, technical facilities & staff, and a business incubator where we will locate our administrative office. These are critical to the success of small MedTech startup companies. The connection with UMass Medical Center is a big plus. Taken together, these are the key elements to enable us to remain in the state, and UMass cares about keeping companies happy and healthy in Massachusetts. M2D2 is a resource that many small medical device firms in Massachusetts could utilize,” says Al Kyle, Perfusion President and CEO.

“The UML Commercial Venture Development incubator is collaborating with M2D2 to help M2D2 get established,” says Paul Wormser, UML Entrepreneur-in-Residence and manager of the incubator. “Perfusion is an ideal candidate for M2D2, and we are delighted to have them as a tenant. They have already contacted a Principal Investigator and are filing an NIH grant to combine their technology with our nanosphere technology. That is exactly the kind of collaboration with our talented faculty that we encourage and can facilitate.”

The Perfusion device combines ultrasound with IV-administered therapeutics. The combined therapy overcomes the “blood-brain barrier” that prevents toxins ߞ; and nearly all medications ߞ; from entering the brain.  Drug delivery to the brain is a huge unmet need for millions of people with neurological diseases and disorders. The company has made significant progress to prove that their proprietary technique works in animals. The method represents a huge breakthrough in medicine. Kyle and partner Ulrich Herken, MD, Ph.D, chief science officer and founder of Perfusion Technology, conducted two studies at Massachusetts General Hospital, and have nearly completed a third at Ohio State University. This spring they will conduct a fourth study, and are filing a grant for a fifth with UML investigators. “There are many patients with later-stage cancer who cannot benefit from the new cancer drugs because of the blood-brain barrier. We hope to develop the enabling technology that will allow physicians to help them,” said Herken.

Though the team is small, the principals have extensive experience. Herken has been R&D director and principal scientist in two medical device startups. He was trained as a physician and scientist in Germany, where he has worked as a consultant and device developer, as well as in the U.S.  Kyle has extensive experience developing ultrasound devices, including noninvasive treatment of the brain. He was a Hewlett-Packard executive in the medical-device division for 25 years, earned master’s degrees in business and public administration at Harvard, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Duke University.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell, a comprehensive university with special expertise in applied science and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental, and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students more than 80 degree programs.  Visit the website at www.uml.edu.