Louisville startup designing pessary-like device to head off preterm labor

Louisville startup MB Device is developing tool to monitor a pregnant woman’s cervix to determine if she’s going into labor. It’s meant for those at high risk for preterm labor – an important indicator for doctors who want to head off birth until the baby’s full term. The device was developed by ob/gyn Divya Cantor, who […]

Louisville startup MB Device is developing tool to monitor a pregnant woman’s cervix to determine if she’s going into labor. It’s meant for those at high risk for preterm labor – an important indicator for doctors who want to head off birth until the baby’s full term.

The device was developed by ob/gyn Divya Cantor, who is also a senior clinical director at WellPoint. The company was featured recently on the site, Insider Louisville, which writes:

“Almost everything else is quantifiable in medicine (except) one thing: cervix impedance,” she said. Cervix impedance is imperceptible changes to the length and thickness of the cervix that can signal oncoming labor up to two weeks before it occurs, and it has only been measured tactilely to this point.

Cantor told us the $20,000 seed money that came from the Vogt Awards allowed the company to do a proof-of-concept. They are actively fundraising and hoping to raise at least $550,000.

Here’s how the device works:

The design is based on the pessary, a device that has been around for centuries to treat prolapse of the uterus. They are estimating the cost of the MB Device will start at $1,500, entirely paid by the patient until they gather enough data to prove to insurance companies that it is better to subsidize this proactive device than to pay for reactive medical costs associated with pre-term birth.

Vasily Abramov, the company’s CEO, told Insider Louisville that the company plans to file with the FDA within three months. It continues:

This is the second iteration of the device. Abramov said advancement in technologies like longer battery life and the diminished size of chips have allowed this device to be possible. It’s basically a medical sensor instrument not unlike wearable technologies like FitBit.

One in eight babies in the United States are born pre-term. A pre-term infant’s cost of care in the first year of his life averages $51,000, whereas a full-term infant’s care averages around $4,000. Cantor said this isn’t just about saving money but about saving and bettering the lives of both the mother and the infant. “Mom is still the best incubator,” she said.

According to Cantor, it will require a lot of education of obstetricians to get them to adopt this product, but there are so few devices in the pregnancy-care field that it would be easy for them to stand out.

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