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Wickit Medical: Preventing Ventilator Associated Pneumonia

by Eric Trac, (MD/MBA student)

The Wickit medical device is an effective, low-cost solution to ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP), the most deadly hospital-acquired infection in the US which costs hospitals $3.8 billion per year

Belmont, CA Medical Device

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About this project

The problem we solve:
Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP) is the most common and lethal hospital-acquired infection. It afflicts 300,000 patients per year in the US and costs hospitals $3.8 billion. Approximately 35 million endotracheal tubes (ETTs) are placed in the U.S. per year and 1/3 remain in place longer than 12 hours. Prolonged intubation puts patients at increased risk for VAP. During mechanical ventilation, antibiotic-resistant bacteria grow in the secretions that pool above the cuff of the ETT and drip into the lungs and also form a biofilm on the ETT. Because these patients are already in critical condition, VAP has a high mortality rate of up to 50 percent. VAP is an issue for hospitals worldwide, with higher VAP rates and associated mortality in developing countries. Unfortunately, existing VAP solutions are prohibitively expensive. VAP negatively affects every stakeholder, from payers to hospitals to nurses to patients, and thus poses a compelling opportunity for innovation.

About our solution:
The patent-pending Wickit device is an inexpensive add-on to an already placed ETT, designed to reduce VAP by 60-80%. Wickit uses a novel dual mechanism of action to achieve efficacy beyond the current gold standard. First, Wickit removes secretions caught above the cuff of the ETT using passive capillary action. Simultaneously, it releases antimicrobial silver ions that attack biofilms in ways antibiotics cannot. Most importantly, Wickit allows flexibility through device insertion that occurs 12 hours into the intubation. This allows ICU physicians to target the patients who are actually at risk. As the device is replaced every 24 hours, the number of wicks used is tailored to the duration of intubation. Further, from the results of in vitro testing, we project a minimum 60% reduction in VAP incidence. The Wickit device has the potential to be more cost-effective and more efficacious than existing VAP solutions and become the standard of care for VAP prevention.
Progress to date: Wickit Medical has prototyped and tested the secretion removal rate of the device, its efficacy against the 4 primary VAP species, and its usability in simulation and cadaver models. The device removes 85 mL +/- 2 mL of a saliva model secretion in a 24 hour period. Microbiological tests show significant bacteria colony count reductions: the device reduced MRSA by 1000-fold, P. aeruginosa and Acinetobacter b. by 1 million-fold, and completely annihilated S. maltophilia. The device has also been tested for usability in the Stanford School of Medicine Simulation Center, as well as in the cadaver lab. Additionally, the Wickit business model has been validated through Stanford GSB Ignite and Cardinal Ventures programs, a utility patent was filed with Stanford Office of Technology Licensing, we have performed an initial regulatory evaluation, and we have established a relationship with Marmara University Hospital as a first customer. Wickit Medical is a OneStart Americas finalist.

About Our Team

Mr. Eric Trac, (MD/MBA student)
Medical Student, Medical Student
Location: California
Medical school: Stanford University School of Medicine
Bio: Eric has been involved with Wickit Medical for the last two years as cofounder and Chief Science Officer. He has a degree in chemical-biological engineering from MIT and is currently an MD/MBA candidate at Stanford.
Title: Medical Student

About Team Members

Natalie Stottler
CEO, Stanford BS Product Design, MS Mechanical Engineering
Biography: Natalie Stottler has strong engineering and biodesign expertise and is a certified EMT, giving her a unique perspective on emergency intubation, infection control and patient flow. She is a Stanford Graduate School of Business Ignite Fellow and a One Start Americas finalist.
Daniel Beswick
Stanford Resident in Otolaryngology, MD University of Pittsburgh, BS Brown
Biography: Dr. Dan Beswick is a Stanford Resident in Otolaryngology. Dan has experience and knowledge relevant to the design and use of the Wickit medical device concerning the relevant anatomy. His surgical expertise and familiarity with human anatomy aid in the Wickit experiments involving cadaveric specimens and anatomic simulation. His clinical trial experience allows Wickit to better design clinical trials.
Andrea Henke
COO, MS Stanford University, BA Boston University
Biography: Andrea Henke oversees all organizational aspects of the company and manages grant applications. Andrea brings substantial management experience for both small and medium sized technology firms.  Previously, she co-founded and was the President, CEO, and Chairman of the board for SHAI, an Artificial Intelligence R&D firm with over $8 million in annual revenue.  Andrea has successfully managed SBIR projects from Phase I through Phase II, to successful transition to operational use.

About Our Company

Wickit Medical
Location: Belmont, California
Product stage: proto
Sales: Working on it
Employees: 3-5

How We Help Patients

Millions of patients are admitted to hospital ICUs each year for critical injuries or illness. Nearly 12 million of these patients are intubated and undergo mechanical ventilation for over 12 hours, putting them at great risk for developing the deadly hospital-acquired respiratory infection known as VAP. Patients and their advocates should have the reasonable expectation that while being treated in the ICU for one set of problems, they do not succumb to secondary complications. The Wickit device can save lives and get patients out of the hospital faster.

How We Help Physicians

A physician’s goal is to apply his/her skills, knowledge and resources to provide the highest quality healthcare possible for patients. However, doctors and their hospital’s infection control administrators face tough decisions about what protocols to set. They must make sure that any new device purchased not only helps patients, but also meets the hospital’s budget requirements. It is frustrating to say no to a life saving device because the hospital simply can’t afford to pay for it. Wickit offers physicians and hospitals a lower-cost solution, with even better patient outcomes.

Challenge Mission

Mission: VAP is an unmet clinical need with both financial and mortality repercussions. The Wickit device is an effective, low-cost solution compatible with hospitals’ VAP protocols and supply chains.
Use of funds: Wickit Medical is continuing to improve the form and function of the Wickit device through rigorous anatomical and microbiological testing to determine the final materials for manufacturing. However, we are rapidly approaching a critical juncture where significant funding, such as that from AMA Healthier Nation Innovation Challenge, is necessary for cadaver studies and professionally contracted animal studies. Funding will go towards these studies and FDA presubmission. These steps are critical to getting this life-saving device to patients.
Intellectual Property Status: Wickit Medical founders (including Natalie Stottler and Eric Trac) filed for a full utility patent on the technology in March, 2015 with the help of the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing. We have performed a patent and prior art search and expect fu
Patent Link:
FDA Status: A preliminary FDA regulatory evaluation with a regulatory specialist has been completed and we plan to pursue FDA presubmission as an accessory device to the endotracheal tube. This calls for a risk assessment to receive either Class I or Class II approval. Presubmission gives us confirmation that the studies we are planning are appropriate. From there, we need to raise a seed round of $1M to support a full animal study towards FDA approval and initial human trials.
Personal Message: Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia is the most lethal hospital-acquired infection in the US, with even higher incidence outside the US. We believe hospitals should be a place where patients get better. Please join us in making this goal a reality.


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    05/19/2016 Ava Hudson - Nurse

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Eric Trac, (MD/MBA student)
Medical Student
Medical Student
Stanford University School of Medicine

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