Champaign startup gets $750,000 grant

Champaign startup gets $750,000 grant

CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois biotech startup has received a $750,000 grant to help develop its handheld device that can quickly detect severe eye injuries.

InnSight Technology, founded by Carle ophthalmologist Leanne Labriola and UI assistant professor of bioengineering Dipanjan Pan, received the grant from the National Science Foundation for its Phase II funding.

This funding will be used to continue development of the device’s biosensor probe and detection strip and to conduct clinical studies at multiple sites, including at Carle Hospital and New York University.

“We’ll be looking at coming up with some prototype devices that can be used at multiple clinical locations,” Pan said. “This is a big thing for the project.”

If successful, Pan said the device could be a “game changer” for the industry.

“It will revolutionize the way they diagnose or treat patients, either trauma patients or patients undergoing cataract surgery, or even Marines battling in remote areas hit with a splinter or something,” he said.

While traditional methods for detecting eye injuries can be invasive or lengthy, Pan said InnSight’s device is neither.

“The disposable sensor touches the surface of the eye’s anterior film, collects a tiny volume of tear film that will be drawn to the sensor device, and that will generate the data that can be read on the device itself,” Pan said.

The device detects a chemical that is normally only found in high concentration inside the eye.

However, if the eye has severe damage, the chemical would leak outside the eye to the tear film, which the device would then be able to detect.

The team has published two papers on the technique.

Pan said the product evolved through InnSight’s Phase I funding, which included a $150,000 grant also from the NSF.

Halfway through Phase II, Pan said they’ll try to raise some venture capital to help manufacture the sensors and devices at a larger scale.

Because the device isn’t invasive, it shouldn’t take long for the device to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, said Pan, who expects approval sometime next year.

InnSight hopes to be selling the device within the next two to three years.