New biotech invention to be launched worldwide


By Communications Staff
Friday, January 30, 2009
Invented at The University of Western Ontario, a novel therapy system for treating dysphagia has been licensed to Trudell Medical International for development and world-wide distribution.
Dysphagia is a debilitating swallowing impairment that affects approximately 17 million North Americans, and is most common among the elderly.  It occurs due to disease or damage to the neural or structural systems that give rise to swallowing and compounds major health problems by substantially increasing a patient’s risk of pneumonia, malnutrition, prolonged hospitalization and even death. 
The novel therapy system, which is the subject of a number of pending patent applications, was developed by Faculty of Health Sciences professor Ruth Martin, former graduate student Julie Theurer, and colleagues at Western’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. The system directs computer-controlled streams of air pulses to the back of the mouth to evoke swallowing.
The therapy system is currently undergoing clinical testing.
“In addition to causing a number of serious health problems such as pneumonia, dysphagia can deny a person the opportunities for pleasure and social connection that occur around the dinner table,” says Martin. “Individuals who are tube fed tend to become marginalized because of their reduced participation in mealtime activities.”
The deal provides TMI with exclusive worldwide rights to develop Martin’s Swallowing Air-Pulse Therapy and Swallowing Air-Pulse Therapy System (SWAPT) for market.
“Trudell is pleased to be playing a role in the development and marketing of this vital technology that addresses a significant unmet patient need,” says Mitch Baran, Chairman, Trudell Medical.
“Professor Martin’s work and that of her team has the potential to go a long way to remedying this disabling health condition in Canada and around the globe.”
“Western is very excited about having a world-class company such as Trudell, with a proven track record of improving quality of life through innovation, take the lead in developing and bringing to market this world-class therapy system,” says Ted Hewitt, Western’s Vice-President (Research & International Relations).
“This deal represents a win-win-win for our researchers, our institution and our community and is yet another example of ground breaking innovation taking place at The University of Western Ontario.”
The deal is the second major announcement by London’s new WORLDiscoveries Business Development Office and the first with a London-based industry leader. WORLDiscoveries is a new business development partnership between Western, including Robarts Research Institute, and Lawson Health Research Institute to help commercialize research and inventions.
The announcement coincides with the opening of the seventh annual WORLDiscoveries Research Showcase being held today at the London Convention Centre.
The SWAPT project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Ontario Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology, and The University of Western Ontario.

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