Subject
OBI Medical

Pain-relieving algorithms

Ask our experts

Peter Sørensen

European Patent Attorney, Partner

MSc Physics & Chemistry

Can math make blood sampling hurt just a little bit less? Yes! At least if you ask the people behind the pharmaceutical company OBI Medical in northern Jutland and the patients, who have had the pleasure of trying the company’s v-TAC® software.

In northern Jutland, the researchers at OBI Medical have developed a technology that makes it possible to calculate arterial blood gases from a regular venous blood test. The technology does not only spare the patients of the unpleasantness normally associated with the testing, but it also eases the work for the clinical personnel. OBI Medical has patented the technology in co-operation with the IPR experts from Plougmann Vingtoft, and the company is in the process of launching the concept in several countries across the globe.

You’ll only feel a tiny prick 
Until a few years ago, it was necessary to take a blood test from the artery in the wrist, when the hospitals needed to measure the oxidation and acid-base balance in the patients’ blood. This was because the blood in the wrist comes freshly oxidized from the heart and lungs. However, this type of blood testing is painful for the patient, and it is both difficult and time-consuming for the clinical personnel, as the test can only be taken by a doctor, and repeated puncturing is often necessary.

 

When you need to attract capital as a startup, it is a prerequisite that the idea and the product are protected by a patent

 

Researchers from Aalborg University Hospital and Aalborg University joined forces to develop a method to calculate the same numbers from a regular venous blood test taken at the elbow joint – very much like the blood test that most people know from visits to their own general practitioner.

Their efforts resulted in the v-TAC® software, which is based on a mathematical algorithm that can calculate the content of blood gases directly from the venous blood. The software can be linked directly to the hospital’s already existing measuring equipment and print reports from the hospital’s own printers.

So what does this mean for the patients? Well, they avoid the painful arterial blood tests; they will be able to get a blood test taken more quickly and in that way get the proper treatment more promptly. Furthermore, it makes the work easier for the clinical personnel, who no longer needs to wait for a doctor to take the tests, as the regular blood tests can be taken by both doctors, nurses, bioanalysts and laboratory technicians. As a final benefit? The doctors get more time to do other work.

From an idea to a business success
In 2002, the researchers founded the company OBI Medical, and early in the process they contacted Plougmann Vingtoft to get help with protecting their idea and attract investors.

“When you need to attract capital as a startup, it is a prerequisite that the idea and the product are protected by a patent and/or a trademark right. This is simply something the investors demand. That is why it has been crucial for us to have professional consultants on board from the very beginning,” says Bjarne Flou, CEO of OBI Medical.

The newly-formed pharmaceutical company was not only intent on protecting its idea, but also to ensure that the idea was in fact unique and innovative. To invest massively in developing and marketing the technology only to discover that someone else already has something similar was not a risk that OBI Medical was willing to take. Therefore, Plougmann Vingtoft made a so-called freedom-to-operate analysis for the company. This type of analysis focusses on uncovering any potential risk of something going awry in the process, including competitors holding dominating patent rights to one’s own product.

The far-sighted focus on patent and trademark protection paid off, and with money from investors, such as Vækstfonden, Innovationsfonden and Markedsmodningsfonden, OBI Medical was able to launch v-TAC® commercially.

 

 

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healthcare@pv.dk