MN Start-Up to Use U of M Tech for New Treatment

The new technology, developed at the University of Minnesota, will be used to treat atherosclerosis, and it could potentially also be used to treat cancer.

A local start-up has acquired the license to a University of Minnesota technology that could treat clogged arteries in a noninvasive manner-faster, more precise, and safer for the patient, the university said Wednesday.

Chaska-based International Cardio Corporation (ICC) plans to develop and commercialize the ultrasonic imaging technology as an alternative to drugs and angioplasty-a procedure in which arteries with plaque build-up are inflated using a small balloon in order to clear them.

Angioplasty is an effective procedure, but it carries risks, according to Donald Knight, president of ICC.

The new technology, developed by a university team led by Emad Ebbini, an electrical and computer engineering professor, is a faster way of performing high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). HIFU is used to treat tissue abnormalities such as cancer tumors and fibroids. The faster HIFU gives real-time feedback, and is therefore more precise and less risky, the university says.

“This would be safer than anything you can think of,” Ebbini said in a statement. “For HIFU, we use higher intensity levels to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. The advantage of our approach is that therapeutic exposure is confined to the focal spot without collateral damage to the intervening normal tissues.”

Ebbini said the technology could be used in other applications, including the treatment of cancer.

ICC plans to seek FDA approval later this year, and according to its Web site, is attempting to raise up to $12 million to complete its business plan. The company is also open to exploring other applications for HIFU.

Ebbini's research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and the International Cardio Corporation.