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Updated 10:00 AM February 5, 2007




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Company formed around body-friendly polymer coatings

A new company, Biotectix LLC, is being formed around intellectual property developed at the University that could dramatically improve the functionality of medical devices that are implanted in the body, such as pacemakers and cochlear implants.

U-M researchers, working with tech transfer professionals, defined the initial business concept that attracted Allied Minds, a Quincy, Mass.-based pre-seed investment corporation, which is committing approximately $750,000 of first-round funding to form the company in Ann Arbor.

Biotectix currently holds an option for an exclusive license to this technology. David Martin, professor of materials science and engineering, macromolecular science and engineering and biomedical engineering, is one of the principal investigators on the project. Materials science and engineering post-doctoral scientist Sarah Richardson-Burns and biomedical engineering graduate student Jeff Hendricks are co-investigators.

The company is being formed to address one of the most vexing problems with devices implanted in the body. The body is soft and wet, and one way its different parts communicate is by sending electrical signals through ions in the water. Traditional metal implants, on the other hand, are hard and dry, and send electrical signals around via electrons, similar to a computer or a robot.

So, for an implant to function efficiently, it is important that the electrons easily are converted to ions at the interface of tissue and implant. The U-M coating improves the efficiency of charge transport anywhere from 100 to 1000 times over traditional metallic biomedical device electrodes, Martin says.

The polymer coating actually is a soft plastic that conducts electricity. The polymer coating can be grown on a metal surface by immersing the metal surface into the tiny molecules that when hit with an electric charge, bond to make the polymer. The polymer forms a unique structure and chemistry that the body likes and accepts more readily than the traditional metal implants.

"One of the most exciting aspects of this technology is its bioactive attributes," says Marc Eichenberger, COO of Allied Minds. "It seems like every day we see new opportunities for these technologies. One example is to improve the interface with robotic arms being developed by the U.S. government and others. Initially we will look to benefit key areas such as cochlear implants, deep brain stimulation and cardiac markets."

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