Hospitals

Air purification startup to improve IVF results sets sights on hospital acquired infections

  Ensuring optimum air quality for in vitro fertlization is a key component to better outcomes, according to the founder of a healthcare startup LifeAire Systems. She believes her company’s air purification system could also help hospitals in their efforts to reduce hospital acquired infections. The company is one of three early stage companies pitching […]

 

Ensuring optimum air quality for in vitro fertlization is a key component to better outcomes, according to the founder of a healthcare startup LifeAire Systems. She believes her company’s air purification system could also help hospitals in their efforts to reduce hospital acquired infections.

The company is one of three early stage companies pitching at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s annual Ben Franklin Venture Idol tomorrow night. In the style of American Idol, a team of investor panelists rather than music critics will hear a pitch from the companies and share their critiques. The audience will vote for a winner, who will receive a company investment.

Kathryn Worrilow, the CEO of  LifeAire Systems, served as the scientific director of in vitro fertilization and andrology laboratories at Lehigh Valley Health Network. She developed the purification system for in vitro fertilization labs two years ago. Worrilow told MedCity News in a phone interview that she sees scope for the system, designed to be installed in air ducts, for operating rooms, burn units, neonatal intensive care units and other rooms where airborne biologicals present a risk.

“I designed this system for the most sensitive endpoint you could study. The human embryo has no mechanism for defense. Biological contaminants in the air can have a significant impact on an embryo’s development.” Worrilow said she has spent several years collecting data demonstrating the effectiveness of its air purification system.

The company is looking to raise $1.5 million to carry out a reference site study for six to 12 months at three hospitals to assess its effectiveness in reducing HAI. It is seeking up to $5 million to boost the company’s staff of four and add more resources. It wants to add three to five key people, including another engineer, as well as operational support. It currently outsources its manufacturing and sales staff.

In addition to hospitals, Worrilow believes its purification system would be useful for the sterile environment requirements of the biopharmaceutical industry.

Hospitals are under pressure to address hospital acquired infections to improve patient outcomes. There were an estimated 1.7 million incidents of hospital acquired infection in 2002, with 99,000 deaths associated with HAI. A little more than half of states require hospitals to report data for hospital acquired infection. Pennsylvania was one of the first to do this.

 

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