Colorado Springs company has a nose for medical devices

By: Wayne Heilman wayneh@gazette.com
September 13, 2014
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photo - Randall Bast, left, and Michael Larson are the partners of local company Mind Rocket which has developed the Tissue Fusion, a medical device that uses a laser as an alternative to stitches or staples, and the Sleep Shepherd, a drug-free sleep device that you wear on your head. The two are pictured at the Colorado Springs business Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Randall Bast, left, and Michael Larson are the partners of local company Mind Rocket which has developed the Tissue Fusion, a medical device that uses a laser as an alternative to stitches or staples, and the Sleep Shepherd, a drug-free sleep device that you wear on your head. The two are pictured at the Colorado Springs business Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)  

If the thought of post-surgery stitches or staples in your nose makes you wince, you may soon have Colorado Springs entrepreneur Michael Larson to thank for developing a more palatable alternative.

Larson, owner of Mind Rocket LLC, and his business partner Randall Bast are trying to raise up to $1 million from angel investors to begin clinical trials of Larson's medical device, which uses a laser to fuse human tissue and is being promoted as a quicker-to-use, quicker-to-heal alternative to stitches or medical staples in nasal surgeries.

The 2-year-old company hopes to sell a license for the technology to a medical manufacturer if federal regulators approve the device - a move that can't happen without clinical trials.

Colorado State University in Fort Collins tested the device on sheep this year and determined that it effectively sealed nasal tissue after surgery. The test results will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for clinical trial approval once Larson and Bast raise enough money.

The device is one of four technologies that Mind Rocket has developed or patented for other inventors and hopes to market. "We have tried to put together a package of technologies that would interest investors and show that we are more than a one-product company. We believe we have a suite of products that are sold directly to consumers and will be much quicker to market than medical devices," said Larson, who is the El Pomar chair of engineering and innovation at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and is on leave from teaching and administrative posts at the school.

Larson and one of his former students started Mind Rocket in late 2012 to license the tissue fusion device, which Larson developed shortly after arriving at UCCS in 2006 while working on Department of Defense-sponsored research on lasers.

As part of his research, he was studying how lasers affect various materials, prompting him to apply the technology as a way to close wounds from surgery in a way that heals faster.

Another company Larson started, now owned by Mind Rocket, licensed the technology last year and won a $75,000 state grant that it used with another $75,000 from investors to test the device on sheep. The company also used some of the money to hire a consultant to develop a plan to get FDA approval for the device.

Larson tried to finance the company by producing electromechanical devices for a variety of clients, including Microsoft and local medical laser manufacturer Spectranetics Corp., but that left no time for him to continue development of the device. So this year, Larson brought in Bast, a childhood friend from Florida, as an investor and CEO to refocus Mind Rocket as a product design and development firm.

Bast held senior management posts with Accenture plc and Cambridge Technology Partners before starting a Florida consulting firm that helped businesses move operations online. He sold the company to software giant Citrix Systems in 2000.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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