PhotoniCare, Inc., a medical device company headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, announced today that they received a Phase I SBIR award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Deafness & Communications Disorders (NIDCD). The NIDCD conducts and supports research in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language.
According to NIH, Phase I awards provide the opportunity to establish the scientific, technical, and commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation. This $225,000 Phase I SBIR award will fund a clinical artificial intelligence project related to PhotoniCare’s TOMi™ Scope. Carle Foundation Hospital (Urbana, IL) and Innolitics, a development firm that specializes in medical imaging software, are partnering with PhotoniCare on this project.
PhotoniCare’s TOMi Scope uses an advanced light-based technology to see through the eardrum. For the first time, physicians can view a high-resolution depth image on-screen to directly visualize the middle ear contents. Current diagnostic tools can only provide a view of the surface of the eardrum, while the disease resides in the middle ear, behind the eardrum. Physicians are left to make a diagnosis with very limited information, or employ invasive surgical procedures to diagnose middle ear pathologies. PhotoniCare’s noninvasive solution eliminates the guesswork, providing users with objective data upon which to base their decisions.
“We are honored to receive additional funding from the NIDCD, who has long been supporting our efforts to solve the problem of frequent misdiagnosis of middle ear infections, and the overuse of antibiotics and surgery in children that result,” said Ryan Shelton, PhotoniCare’s co-founder and CEO. “This project is really going to amplify the impact of the TOMi Scope, and I personally can’t wait to see the results.”
In fiscal years 2015 and 2016, PhotoniCare was awarded SBIR Phase ll funding from the NIDCD. The SBIR program is the mechanism by which the NIH and other Federal agencies bring innovative solutions to public health challenges. The initial awards supported the build-out of PhotoniCare’s TOMi Scope, as well as funding to host clinical studies using the device. The studies, which took place in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois and Washington, D.C., helped PhotoniCare to better understand the potential impact of the TOMi Scope diagnosis of middle ear disease (ear infections). In fiscal year 2018, PhotoniCare was awarded Phase llb SBIR funding to support a necessary, expanded, multi-site clinical trial to advance the device through the commercialization process.