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Delivering Drugs to Inner Ear, Eyes, and Brain Made Easier with "Magnetic Syringe"

A “magnetic syringe” developed by Otomagnetics, a startup with roots in the Clark School, has won the Advanced Medical Technology Association's (AdvaMed) inaugural Virginia Shimer Rybski Memorial Award, which recognizes the potential of a promising entrepreneur or entrepreneurial company in the medical technology industry. The award includes a $10,000 grant to support the commercialization of the company's proprietary magnetic drug delivery system, which noninvasively directs biocompatible nanoparticles and their therapeutic payloads through tissue.

Otomagnetics, led by Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) and Institute for Systems Research (ISR) Professor Benjamin Shapiro, also includes co-founders Didier Depireux (ISR), David Beylin, and Irving Weinberg, M.D. The team has designed a minimally invasive platform technology that directs and delivers therapeutics to the body's hard-to-reach destinations. The company's first targets are the middle and inner ear to enable treatment of conditions such as sudden hearing loss, tinnitus and middle ear infections. Other potential markets include drug delivery to the eye, dentistry, and the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our goal is to move our magnetic delivery technology from the lab to the market so it can help patients,” says Shapiro. “To have a panel of experts, from clinicians to investors and regulatory advisors, see the potential of our approach is a distinction and an honor for us. It will certainly aid our efforts.”

“[Otomagnetics] focused on a specific clinical issue with a significant unmet need,” says Dr. Jeffrey Hausfeld, chairman and founder of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and one of the judges on the award panel. “This is a novel platform technology and Dr. Shapiro did an excellent job [of] conveying the promise of a very useful clinical device that will hopefully improve patient care and outcomes.”

In addition to the Rybski Award, Otomagnetics has received financial support from the State of Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) under the Maryland Innovation Initiative, the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program, and the U.K.-based Action on Hearing Loss. Otomagnetics works in collaboration with Diego Preciado, M.D., Ph.D. of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C.

The Virginia Shimer Rybski Memorial Award was established in memory of entrepreneur and patient care advocate Virginia Rybski, president and CEO of Regenesis Biomedical and a member of AdvaMed’s Board of Directors.

Related Articles:
Article about Otomagnetics in Action on Hearing Loss newsletter
Shapiro's Otomagnetics Recipient of BioMaryland Center Award

October 9, 2013


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