Student and faculty team wins VentureWell grant for port sterilization project

Blue ribbonA team of senior biomedical engineering majors and Case Western Reserve University faculty won a VentureWell E-Team Grant to advance a project aimed to reduce catheter infection rates.
Ironically, when patients end up in hospitals to get treatment, they can be exposed to new infections from the inadvertent introduction of bacteria into the blood while medication is being administered through the injection ports of in-dwelling catheters. These catheter-related blood stream infections—or CRBIs—are a serious issue for hospitals. They can lead to extended stays for patients, as well as increased costs for the hospital, up to $2.8 billion a year nation wide.

Compliance with the standard method of using alcohol swabs to clean catheters is only approximately 40 percent, so a group of biomedical engineering students and faculty members used a senior design project to come up with a better solution: a snap-on system for cleansing vascular line injection ports.
Seniors Nick DiFranco, Tianbi Duan, Clarissa Kos, Jackson Pilliod, and Anurag Gupta were integral in designing an initial prototype after selecting the concept for their senior design project. Funding for their efforts first came from a grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering branch of the NIH (grant 5R25EB014774-03) and the team took full advantage of the prototyping and design equipment available at the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box]. James D. Reynolds, associate professor of anesthesiology and a member of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine, and James R. Rowbottom, professor and chair of the anesthesiology department at University Hospitals, led the group.
As part of the Venturewell funding, the team developed a dispenser that contains a customized roll of sterilizing strips. The unit clips over the injection port and the strips are dispensed one-by-one to clean the port before each injection. The device is easy to use and, more importantly, would eliminate the need for manually swabbing the port before each use. Support from Venturewell allowed Difranco and Pilliod to present the device at the 2016 Entrepreneurial conference in Boston this summer as well as receive development and commercialization advice from a panel of experts. In addition the success of the prototyping work has allowed the team to secure follow-on funding from the Ohio 3rd Frontier Technology Validation fund and the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland, grant 4UL1TR000439 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences component of the NIH.