July 12, 2013 Updated: July 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm
A University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor has won a $75,000 state grant to help him get federal approval of a medical device he developed that uses a laser to fuse human tissue as an alternative to stitches or medical staples in nasal surgeries.
Michael Larson, a UCCS mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, said Friday he will use the grant and $75,000 in matching funds raised from two Florida "angel" investors to test the device later this year on sheep at Colorado State University. The test is a necessary step to getting Food and Drug Administration approval to use the device on humans.
Larson developed the device shortly after arriving at UCCS in 2006 while working on Department of Defense-sponsored research on how lasers affect various materials, prompting him to apply the technology for medical uses.
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade announced the grant Friday, along with four others totaling $522,000, as part of its Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program. The grants are made to help early-stage companies turn technology developed at state universities into commercial products.
Larson said his company, Tissue Fusion LLC, is negotiating a license from the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office so it can win FDA approval and start manufacturing the product or license it to a manufacturer.
Larson, who also is the El Pomar Chair of Engineering and Innovation at UCCS, is on half-time leave from his position as associate vice chancellor of research and innovation so he try to turn the technology into a marketable product. He will continue in his El Pomar chair and professor positions.
"This leave shows the university's commitment to supporting entrepreneurial ventures and becoming a player in creating economic development in this community," he said. "There are lots of examples across the country of universities as drives for technology development, and UCCS wants to play that role here."
Larson said he hopes to test the device on up to 10 sheep at CSU, and will submit that data to the FDA in hopes of gaining approval to use the device on humans, although the agency could require human trials before granting its OK, which he hopes to get within a year.
"We hope the use of this device in nasal surgeries will lay the foundation to fuse tissue in all types of surgical procedures," Larson said.
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