INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (August 17, 2017) – As a father with three children under age six, VisionTech Angels’ Executive Director Ben Pidgeon has seen his share of ear infections and made many a run to the drug store for antibiotics. So when Illinois-based startup PhotoniCare pitched VisionTech Angels on their ClearView technology that significantly improves ear infection diagnostics, potentially reducing the use of antibiotics and surgery, Pidgeon was all ears.
And so was VisionTech Angels’ statewide network of investors. Last week, after conducting extensive due diligence, VisionTech Angels made PhotoniCare its twenty-fourth portfolio company, investing $272,000 in the company.
Said Pidgeon, “I know first hand that kids and ear infections go hand-in-hand. What I didn’t know is ear infections affect up to 80 percent of children in the United States each year. Half of ear infections are misdiagnosed. The main culprit is outdated technology.”
PhotoniCare developed ClearView as an alternative to the otoscopes primary care physicians and ear, nose and throat specialists currently use to check for ear infections. Otoscopes are less than ideal because physicians can’t see beyond the eardrum into the middle ear where most ear infections occur.
PhotoniCare CEO and co-founder, Ryan Shelton, PhD, pitched the ClearView device to VisionTech Angels’ chapters in Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and Lafayette in May.
“What we’ve created is a hand-held device that allows physicians to see into the middle ear using near-infrared light waves to provide 3D views inside living tissues,” explained Shelton. “Our technology is similar to ultrasound, but uses light rather than sound waves, resulting in a simpler, easier to use device. For the first time, physicians can base their diagnosis directly on what they observe inside the middle ear without the eardrum confounding their view. Prior to ClearView, this is something they could not do unless they surgically remove the eardrum.”
The benefits of PhotoniCare’s ClearView device will be music to parents’ ears. More accurate diagnosis of ear infections should lead to more judicious prescribing of antibiotics and fewer trips to the doctors. Those found to have ongoing issues requiring surgery can be treated sooner thereby avoiding hearing loss.
PhotoniCare, which had previously raised $2.3 million in federal grants to develop its technology, plans to use the new round of investment to finalize the ClearView production model and secure final FDA clearance of the device. Said Shelton said VisionTech Angels’ investment brings more than funds. “When it comes to healthcare and medical devices, VisionTech Angels is the most knowledgeable of any angel group we’ve met. And now as a VisionTech portfolio company, we have access to their expertise. We’re excited to have them as an investor.”