By Geoffrey Fattah
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY — Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a "smart" feeding tube that will help avoid potentially fatal medical accidents.
More than 40,000 feeding tubes are accidentally placed into patients' lungs each year in the United States, resulting in an estimated 6,000 deaths, according to researchers. University of Utah startup company Veritract Inc. has developed a high-tech feeding tube that comes equipped with a live camera and steering mechanism. This enables doctors to more accurately place the feeding tube into the stomach than what current feeding tubes allow.
"Misplacement of a feeding tube in a patient's lung is something that is avoidable, and it is our goal to get a product to market that will improve patient care," Dr. John Fang, Veritract founder and clinical director of the U.'s Division of Gastroenterology, said. Fang developed the new feeding tube with the help of students from the BioDesign program at the U.
The program recently received $820,000 in funding to refine the product for Food and Drug Administration approval, which is required before the product can be used in hospitals.
Veritract has received grants from the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, the Utah State Centers of Excellence, and the University of Utah Research Foundation. Students from the David Eccles School of Business's Lassonde New Venture Development Center have also worked with Fang to do a market analysis and draft a business plan to help launch the company.
The company is one of more than 100 startup companies created at the University of Utah in the last six years.