UL licenses new optical fibre technology to Pointec Medical

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The University of Limerick (UL) recently licensed a ground breaking new technology based on optical fibres to the Galway based medical devices company, Pointec Medical Ltd. The technology can be used to better inform physicians on the appropriate intervention for vascular disorders such as coronary artery stenosis (narrowing of the arteries). Developed by UL researchers, the optical fibre technology is thin enough to be threaded through the arteries of the human body and can take pressure and temperature readings within the arteries themselves. 

UL licenses optical fibre pressure sensing technology which will be used to improve detection of coronary blockages.

Somewhat similar devices are currently used to perform a procedure called Fractional Flow Reserve diagnostics, in order to assess whether it is appropriate to implant a stent or to treat arterial blockages through other means. However, many of the currently available technologies, which are used in this procedure, have potential limitations in terms of their accuracy and stability.

The patent pending technology has already undergone significant evaluation testing at labs in Ireland and North America. The estimated market value for this pressure wire technology is €200 million a year and growing at a rate of 40% per year. 

Co- inventor, Dr. Gabriel Leen said; “The fibre optic based temperature and pressure sensor technology has the potential to significantly improve the quality of coronary diagnostics and provide cardiac surgeons with a powerful tool to accurately assess the level of arterial blockages in order to determine the most appropriate treatment for patients.”

Company director, Alan Crean, Pointec Medical Ltd. said; "We are delighted to be able to work with the team of researchers in UL who have developed a great technology with a huge market potential".

"We are very pleased to be in a position to partner with a company like Pointec Medical Ltd." said Paul Dillon, Technology Transfer Director, UL, "we are very keen to see our research have an impact in the marketplace." In the past 5 years UL research has resulted in 107 new inventions, 34 patent applications, 31 commercialisation agreements with industry and seven new spin-out companies. UL continues to one of the top Irish universities in translating research investment into marketable product and services.

The optical fibre pressure and temperature sensor technology was developed at the Optical Fibre Sensor Research Centre (www.ofsrc.ul.ie), University of Limerick by a research team led by Professor Elfed Lewis in collaboration Hochschule Wismar, University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

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