Women-led startup develops cost-conscious medical devices for emerging countries

A DreamIt Health Baltimore company is developing a pipeline of medical devices to give emerging markets safer, more affordable solutions, starting with device to recycle blood during surgery.

Sisu Global Health co-founder and CEO Carolyn Yarina painted a pretty dire picture of emerging countries’ limited access to medical devices during her company’s pitch at DreamIt Health Baltimore’s demo day. To tackle that problem, it is working with physicians, nurses and engineers in some of these countries to develop sanitary and safer medical devices than what they currently use that are also more affordable than devices that are the standard of care in the U.S.

It is particularly interested in producing devices to support OBGYN clinics. Among its backers, aside from DreamIt Health, are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, UKaid, VentureWell and Better Ventures.

First on the list is a device to recycle a patient’s blood during surgery called Hemafuse. Having done pre-clinical studies, it plans to do a small human feasibility trial of the device this Fall in Zimbabwe. It will involve eight to 10 patients experiencing complications in the first trimester of pregnancy. It has lined up clinical partners to do a larger clinical trial in Ghana next year.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company is currently raising $1 million to support these clinical trials.

Yarina previously led CentriCycle and did supply chain management with Halliburton around procurement systems. Gillian Henker, its CTO, previously founded DIIME — Design Innoivation for Infants and Mothers Everywhere. Chief Marketing Officer Katie Kirsch was previously part of CentriCycle

It has a group of prototypes for devices in the early stages of their development. Evolve is a modular centrifuge designed for blood separation to support rapid diagnostic tests for HIV, malaria, hepatitis, syphilis and typhoid fever. Blood separation can increase the timeframe clinicians have to test a blood sample at room temperature from two hours to up to three days, according to its website.

The products are developed in-house and by a network of physicians and nurses who live in these emerging economies. It provides these developers a royalty from sales depending on the stage of development.

The idea is that wholesale distributors will sell the devices to hospitals, NGOs and governments. It estimates that Hemafuse has a $600 million market.

[Photo source: Sisu Global Health]