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ARPA-H funds research proposals from small businesses

Agency supports proposals for innovative research and development from small businesses

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) provides funding for small businesses that possess the expertise to conduct innovative research and development to contribute toward the agency’s mission.

With a scope spanning the molecular to the societal, in June, 2023 ARPA-H sought Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) proposals that aim to rapidly achieve better health outcomes across patient populations, communities, disease, and health conditions, including support of the Cancer Moonshot.

Awardees are expected to use innovative approaches to enable revolutionary advances in science, technology, or systems. Awards made from the SBIR solicitation are generally in the form of contracts. Exact award amounts are dependent upon meeting aggressive milestones, typical to the ARPA-H process.

ARPA-H is pleased to announce the following SBIR awardees:

Advanced Imaging Aided Autonomous Robotic Cholecystectomy

This ARPA-H SBIR Phase II project aims to develop an 'autonomous' minimally invasive surgery approach, enhancing outcomes in procedures like laparoscopic cholecystectomy through advanced robotic tools and a 'smart' vision framework. The research team will explore whether the novel robotic platform can elevate the safety and efficiency of gallbladder removal surgery by integrating supervised autonomy. The need for the project is driven by the current trends in surgical care to minimize complications and make medical care more quantitative and repeatable. Grounded in advanced surgical vision and a robust perception framework, this project signifies a significant leap forward in surgical robotics.

  • Date Awarded September 21, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.5M
  • Prime Awardee Institution OptoSurgical
  • Principal Investigator Yoseph Kim
  • Location Columbia, MD

Design Integration and Testing of a Low-Cost Disposable Remotely Controlled Microneedle Transdermal Drug Delivery Device

The project plans to develop Digital SatioRx, a very low cost remotely controllable disposable microneedle transdermal drug delivery device able to deliver any liquid FDA-approved transdermal drug. Digital SatioRx's telemedicine-enabled (EHR-integrated), remotely activated, disposable design and unique delivery system will minimize infection risk and ensure administration of a reproducible drug dose to any patient in seconds. It will allow providers to ensure compliance while reducing costs and inconvenience for patients. Design features from other Satio telemedicine devices and manually operated transdermal delivery devices will guide final design.

  • Date Awarded September 18, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.5M
  • Prime Awardee Institution Satio, Inc.
  • Principal Investigator Mike Moniz
  • Location Boston, MA

Microneedle-based Patch for Remote and Real-time Transdermal Drug Delivery for Cardiovascular Disease

Triton Systems Inc. will create a transdermal microneedle patch and portable on-body pump system for therapeutic drug delivery for cardiovascular disease management (CVD) and intervention. The device will offer the capability for real-time remote management of therapeutic dosages by medical staff through communication with patient-specific electronic health records (EHRs), while remaining HIPAA-compliant. The platform will monitor patient vital signs by leveraging commercially available technology.

  • Date Awarded September 18, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.4M
  • Prime Awardee Institution Triton Systems Inc.
  • Principal Investigator David Pierre
  • Location Chelmsford, MA

A Smart AI-based Digital Health Framework for Enhancing Pediatric Wellness

The primary purpose of the project is to build preliminary AI algorithms to detect Ear Nose Throat (ENT) and respiratory (asthma) issues in a pediatric rural population with the intention of facilitating telehealth diagnosis and treatment, and minimizing burdens related to accessing healthcare in rural areas.

  • Date Awarded September 15, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.4M
  • Prime Awardee Institution Medentum Innovations Inc.
  • Principal Investigator Vivek Shinde Patil, Ph.D.
  • Location Clintwood, VA

Digital Assessment of Children’s Conditions Using Artificial Intelligence (“DACCS AI”)

This project explores applying artificial intelligence (AI), transfer learning, and assessment of mobile phone images of pediatric throat, otoscopy ear, and skin conditions to help enable remote pediatric care of colds, sore throats, ear infections and other diseases.

  • Date Awarded September 15, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.5M
  • Prime Awardee Institution BelleTorus Corporation (“”)
  • Principal Investigator John Romano, M.D.
  • Location Cambridge, MA

Real-time Functional Fluorescence Nerve Imaging for Surgery

This project plans to synthesize and characterize novel nerve-specific fluorescence guided surgery (FGS) contrast agents to select a bright, water-soluble lead compound for clinical translation with optimal nerve visualization, functional assessment performance, and clinically relevant pharmacology and toxicology (pharm/tox) profiles for follow-on Investigational New Drug-enabling studies and first-in-human trials.

  • Date Awarded September 15, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $4M
  • Prime Awardee Institution Trace Biosciences
  • Principal Investigator Connor Barth, Ph.D.
  • Location Portland, OR

StrepApp: Deep Learning to Diagnose Streptococcal Pharyngitis

This Phase II project is for the advancement of diagnostic capabilities for detecting Group A Streptococcus pharyngitis (GAS). The goals under the contract include a comprehensive and diverse database, multiple trained and optimized deep learning models deployable on a mobile device, FDA clearance for the algorithms, and the validation of the app's performance through clinical research. These achievements will establish the foundation for a reliable, accurate, and user-friendly diagnostic tool that can effectively detect GAS pharyngitis in children.

  • Date Awarded September 15, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.5M
  • Prime Awardee Institution AusculTech Dx
  • Principal Investigator Raj Shekhar, Ph.D.
  • Location Silver Spring, MD

Translation of Novel Biliary Tract-specific Contrast Agent to Mediate Successful Image-guided Hepatobiliary Interventions

The project aims to advance the development of BL-760, a near-infrared contrast agent designed for clear intraoperative identification of bile ducts. This novel dye addresses the significant medical issue of bile duct injury during hepatobiliary surgeries (e.g., cholecystectomy, hepatectomy), impacting over 1 million patients annually. The project plans to produce BL-760 with high quality standards (GMP) and to conduct rigorous safety tests in a controlled lab environment (GLP), at the allow for Investigational New Drug (IND)-enabling studies to test the dye in humans. The project outcome will improve patient outcomes and set a new standard of care in the field of hepatobiliary surgery.

  • Date Awarded September 15, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.5M
  • Prime Awardee Institution OptoSurgical
  • Principal Investigator Yoseph Kim
  • Location Columbia, MD

Highly Miniaturized and Portable MALDI-2 Based Imaging Mass Spectrometry for Point-of-Care Clinical Diagnostics

This project plans to design, optimize, test, and deliver two fully functional miniature, portable MALDI-2 imaging mass spectrometer (IMS) prototype systems capable of high-resolution imaging mass spectrometry. The miniaturized IMS will support a disruptive technology as a portable point-of-care clinical diagnostic.

  • Date Awarded September 14, 2023
  • Amount Awarded $3.4M
  • Prime Awardee Institution BaySpec
  • Principal Investigator William Yang-Terziyan
  • Location San Jose, CA