Oslo and Minnesota fighting heart attacks
Sensors to detect sepsis and improve blood flow aim to save millions of lives worldwide
Sensocure AS develops and manufactures biomedical sensors for health care and aims to become the market leader in postoperative monitoring of internal organs. If a whole organ does not receive enough blood circulation, it will be destroyed. In the worst case, the patient will die. The startup’s sensor, IscAlert™, can be placed in various human organs, and measure the blood movement during medical operations.
Professor and Dr. Tor Inge Tønnessen at Oslo University Hospital started developing the sensor. He realized that it was necessary to avoid ischemia, reduced blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle. It may not be caused by a disease, but for example, by overexertion or cold exposure. Severe is–chemia can result in a heart attack or stroke. It is the most common disease and cause of death in the western world. If ischemia can be reversed quickly, permanent damage to the organ can be avoided.
Sensocure was founded in 2011 in Horten, Norway, and started out as Silicia Vestfold Technology Incubator. Dr. Tønnessen owns 30 percent of the company.
A collaboration with ExoStat Medical Inc. in Prior Lake, Minn., has benefitted both companies. After jointly working together for a year, the two entered into a long-term formal technology license agreement in December 2014. ExoStat has worked on an electronic sensor of its own, MicroTrend™ System pCO2, that measures partial pressure in oral mucosal tissue. The sensor will constitute an essential component of a new non-invasive device developed to measure tissue hyper fusion and the possible onset of sepsis (“blood poisoning”). Sepsis is a medical condition that claims millions of lives each year, represents enormous medical expenses, and is the 10th most frequent cause of death in the United States.
In a June 2016 ExoStat press release, CEO James R. Hays Jr. said, “The resulting combination of both systemic (MicroTrend™) and local (IscAlert™) tissue measurement of blood flow is expected to be hugely important to critical-care providers and have global impacts in both saving lives and reducing costs of health care.” They believed this would be due to the early detection of tissue hyper fusion determining the possibility of the onset of sepsis, a malady that can cause massive organ failure. ExoStat felt so strongly about the partnership with the Norwegian company that they invited CTO and chairman of the Sensocure board, Stein Ivar Hansen, Ph.D., to join their board of directors. Dr. Hansen also serves as managing director of Micro Tech Innovation, the company responsible for Norwegian Centers of Expertise, micro and nanotechnologies. The CEO of Sensocure, Trond Herje, said that the two companies complemented each other nicely.
Last April, Sensocure received a third regional research grant from Oslofjordfondet. So far, the sensors have been tested on pigs. However, by the end of a two-year development program, the company intends to have its first sensor ready for industrialization/mass production. The company will also have market channels ready to accept the sensor.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited the company three times in 2017. Sensocure had grown from two to 10 employees between her first tour in 2015 and second visit in January 2017. Herje showed the Prime Minister the newly built 10,000-square-foot facility, including cleanroom laboratories, manufacturing area, research and development space and offices. The prime minister was briefed on the history of Sensocure and its future plans for growth. Solberg was impressed by the company’s progress since her first visit in 2015.
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 9, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.