UW Spinoff PhysioSonics Gets FDA OK For Monitoring Brain Blood Flow

Xconomy Seattle — 

PhysioSonics, the Bellevue, WA-based developer of ultrasound for automated monitoring of stroke symptoms, is graduating from R&D mode and moving into the commercial world.

The company has won clearance from the FDA to start selling its Presto 1000 Flow Monitor system in the U.S., according to CEO Brad Harlow. The company has also raised a little more than $1 million in a debt financing, meaning it has now pulled in $18 million from investors and $4 million from government sources since its founding as a University of Washington spinout in 2000.

The technology, which I first described here in a 2009 feature story, is all about automating the way technicians and physicians monitor blood flow in the brain. Instead of having a technician manually hold an ultrasound transducer up against the head of a patient suffering from a stroke, an aneurysm, vasospasms, or traumatic brain injury, the PhysioSonics system allows continuous automated monitoring. The hope is that such a system will provide continuous data readouts—not just periodic snapshots—on whether a patient is recovering well. By reducing staff time, it should also save the hospital money, the company has said.

PhysioSonics hopes to start selling the product in 2013, and is seeking a commercial partner, Harlow says. The pricing of the system will be set by the partner, Harlow notes, but he says he expects it will cost healthcare providers $35,000 to $45,000. Harlow adds that cost is mainly for the hardware, and that once new applications like embolism detection or intracranial pressure are added in the future, they will come to customers in the form of lower-cost software upgrades.

Past investors in the company include Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., Medtronic, and the local angel investor Kirby Cramer.