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Profusa recognized as Fierce Medtech 15!

by Conor Hale | Feb 11, 2019 12:00pm

FierceMedTech’s Fierce 15 class of 2018 is aimed at advancement—whether it’s simply combining new know-how with old methods, making definitive improvements in well-trodden fields, or pushing us to reconsider how far we can reach with the means available today.

They are about taking steps over, around or through what many have accepted as the limits of current medical technology, in order to make tangible impacts on patients’ lives, or the development of therapies that will.

Using injectable biosensors for a real-time readout of health status.


CEO: Ben Hwang
Based: South San Francisco
Founded: 2009

The scoop: Profusa is working to capture biochemical data—“the data that physicians use and care about,” says CEO Ben Hwang—through the use of injectable biosensors, so that people and their healthcare teams can monitor their health and make decisions in real time.

As Hwang puts it, Profusa’s goal is to take the user experience of currently available wearables, such as the Apple Watch or Fitbit, and use it to collect biochemical data, such as tissue oxygen levels or blood glucose levels.

What makes Profusa fierce: What the company is trying to do isn’t new, Hwang says, but a big hurdle for people working on implantable sensors is overcoming the body’s reaction to foreign objects.

“The human body so good at determining what belongs inside the body and what doesn’t belong inside the body,” he says. “If you get a little splinter, the body first elicits an immunological response—the body tries to chew up that element that you’ve put inside. If the body can’t chew it up, it wraps collagen and scar tissue around that element so that it cannot hurt you.”

An enveloped sensor can still take measurements, but it does so from inside the scar tissue, which can yield inaccurate results. One solution is to drug the body to minimize scarring, but Profusa’s approach is to use tiny sensors that can remain in the body for months or even years, with “little to no manual intervention.”

Its biosensor is a 5-mm-long, flexible hydrogel implant—described as similar to a contact lens—that is injected just under the skin. It forms a porous scaffold that causes capillaries to grow into it from the surrounding tissue.

And while these 15 companies move forward, we’ll be close behind, watching how their progress advances others’. Stay tuned, and feel free to reach out with the ideas you think are fierce enough to make that significant difference. — Conor Hale