Tag: Relavo

FastForward U

Students’ Company Receives $10K to Continue Dialysis-Related Work Through…

Students’ Company Receives $10K to Continue Dialysis-Related Work Through Summer

March 25, 2019

A company founded by Johns Hopkins University undergraduate students that is trying to reduce the risk of infection during home dialysis treatment will continue its work once the spring semester ends.

Relavo was selected for the Johns Hopkins University Summer Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Award, giving the company $10,000 to work full-time over the summer as well as receive mentorship from Johns Hopkins alums and entrepreneurs.

Relavo previously received $10,000 in grant money in the fall through FastForward U’s Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund.

The students behind Relavo, from left: Hallie Horvath (WSE ’18), Eugene Oh (WSE ’21), Giang Hong (WSE ’21), Sarah Lee (WSE ’19), Tejasvi Desai (WSE ’21), Anna Bailey (WSE ’19), Dylan Hirsch (WSE ’18) and James Qin (WSE ’19). (Courtesy of Sarah Lee)

“I’m very proud of this team and the hard work we put into this,” said Anna Bailey (WSE ’19), who leads verification and validation testing design and analysis.

Relavo is developing the PeritoneX, which aims to reduce touch contamination by disinfecting potentially contaminated connection points for peritoneal dialysis (PD). During PD, a solution is administered via a catheter through the lining of the abdomen, and the blood is cleaned nightly inside the body.

Of the more than 600,000 Americans living with kidney failure, less than 10 percent use PD, but that share is growing, according to Relavo. PD has been found to give patients a better quality of life than hemodialysis, where the blood is cleaned outside the body. But because patients administer the dialysis to themselves, there is a higher risk of contamination of the tube ends during setup, according to the company. The resulting infection, called peritonitis, occurs in 1 in 4 patients, requires hospitalization 60 percent of the time and is a primary factor in 1 in 6 PD patient deaths.

The PeritoneX is designed to disinfect contamination points after connections have been made but before the initial dialysis treatment. The device is small, affordable and disposable.

“This was an extremely competitive funding process, and it speaks highly to Relavo’s dedication, focus and vision that they were selected for this award,” said Kerrie Carden, FastForward U’s director of student ventures. “The company has made fantastic strides and we’re very excited to see where this summer will take them.”

Sarah Lee (WSE ’19), Relavo’s project manager and chief design engineer, said Relavo’s goals for the summer are to test and finalize one of the PeritoneX mechanisms and write two short manuscripts for publication. Ideally, the company would finish work on all mechanisms by the end of the year so it can begin validation testing and start the Food and Drug Administration regulatory process next year, she added.

Without the summer grant, Relavo would have focused more on business development instead of testing the product.

“I was really hoping to stay in the summer to work after graduation,” said Lee, who will start a master’s program at Johns Hopkins in the fall. “Now we actually have the funds to go forward.”

Relavo formed in the Undergraduate Design Team program in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, where students spend 18 months designing, building and testing medical devices with the help of Johns Hopkins faculty. The idea of stopping infections in home dialysis was appealing to team members because it was a clinical need that could have a large impact, according to Lee.

“It seemed like a relatively simple solution, but no one had tackled it before,” said Lee.

The students talked with doctors across the country and world to determine the need for their product. They also built connections through FastForward U, particularly finding mentors who have helped them understand regulatory issues and refine their pitch.

“We appreciate the help we’ve gotten from FastForward U and JHTV, especially on the business development side, because we had no experience there,” said Bailey.

Relavo was one of 24 applicants for the summer grant and one of a dozen finalists interviewed last month.

“We were incredibly excited about the quantity and quality of applications for this award,” said Kevin Carter, student venture coordinator for FastForward U. “Twenty-four undergraduate ventures at Hopkins were willing to dedicate their entire summer toward making significant progress on their startups, which is a testament to their drive and devotion as student entrepreneurs.”

FastForward U

4 Undergraduate-Led Startups Receive Grants from O’Connor Fund

4 Undergraduate-Led Startups Receive Grants from O’Connor Fund

(Courtesy FastForward U)

Four undergraduate-student-led startups will receive up to $10,000 in grant funding through Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures’ FastFoward U to pursue their business ideas, which range from safer in-home dialysis and bottled bubble tea.

Aquatas, Goba Tea, Relavo and Straythink were recently named as awardees of The Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund, which supports undergraduate entrepreneurs. The startups also will have access to mentorship from investors and serial entrepreneurs and additional resources from FastForward U and JHTV.

FastForward U received 31 applications for the fund, made possible by a donation from John Hopkins alumnus Ralph S. O’Connor and his wife, Becky. Now in its fifth year, the O’Connor Fund has supported nearly two-dozen student teams.

“This was an extremely competitive funding cycle with numerous standout applications,” said Kerrie Carden, FastForward U’s director of student ventures. “We had more qualified teams than awards to give out, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our Hopkins undergrads.”

Kevin Carter, student venture coordinator for FastForward U, said the applications “highlight the breadth of innovation coming from Hopkins undergrads.”

“From medical devices to virtual reality to cryptocurrency to consumer goods, it’s all incredibly impressive,” he said.

Members of the 2018-2019 cohort met for an orientation dinner Nov. 29.

Aquatas 

The team: Anish Mokha (KSAS ’20), Maya Foster (KSAS ’20), Varun Venkatesh (WSE ’20), Shivam Rastogi (WSE ’20), Zach Schmidt (WSE ’20) and Paarth Sharma (WSE ’20)

The product: An efficient and affordable water purification system for use in developing regions around the world.

Many water purification products on the market fail to filter out metal contaminants and salts, have low water output, require an external power source or are too expensive. Aquatas’ purification device is manually powered and can produce as much as a liter of water in three-and-a-half minutes. The device can be used by children or seniors, weighs 25 pounds and is the size of a small household trash can. It lasts up to 16 months and costs around $65 using readily available parts.

Aquatas’ prototype achieved a rejection rate of nearly 98 percent, and the company is working on pilot testing next spring in the hopes of making its first sales through a community center in Kenya.

Goba Tea

The team: Byron D’Mello (KSAS ’20), Noah Doris (Babson College)

The product: The first bottled bubble tea, infused with stress-reducing vitamins, for busy and stressed college students.

Self-described “bubble tea fanatics,” D’Mello and Doris fell in love with the drink as freshmen but saw fellow students driving up to a half-hour away for the tea, which must be sipped immediately.

D’Mello and Doris have been making their own bubble tea and selling it for a year-and-a-half at farmers’ markets and festivals. In the spring, they ran a two-month pilot program at Hopkins; after initially selling 270 bottles per week, they upped their supply to 350 bottles. Goba Tea is now available at 10 retail locations in Maryland, California, Florida and Massachusetts. Goba Tea signed contracts with four other universities over the summer and has received FDA approval for the beverage.

Goba Tea wants to do for bottled tea what Naked did for smoothies – bring the drink to the consumer rather than vice versa. The company is targeting universities and focusing sales at or near colleges, much like Insomnia Cookies.

Relavo 

The team: Sarah Lee (WSE ’19), James Qin (WSE ’19), Anna Bailey (WSE ’19), Tejasvi Desai (WSE ’21), Eugene Oh (WSE ’21) and Giang Hoang (WSE ’21)

The product: The PeritoneX, a disinfection device that reduces the risk of infection during home peritoneal dialysis treatment.

More than 600,000 Americans are living with kidney failure, most of whom rely on hemodialysis, where the blood is taken out of the body to be cleaned. But more patients – currently 9 percent and growing – use peritoneal dialysis, where the blood is cleaned nightly inside the body by a solution administered via a catheter through the lining of the abdomen. While PD has been found to give patients a better quality of life than blood dialysis, because patients administer the dialysis to themselves, there is a higher risk of contamination of the tube ends during setup. The resulting infection, called peritonitis, occurs in 1-in-4 patients, requires hospitalization 60 percent of the time and is a primary factor in 1-in-6 PD patient deaths.

The PeritoneX aims to reduce touch contamination by disinfecting potentially contaminated PD connection points after connections have been made but before the initiation of dialysis treatment. The PeritoneX is small, affordable and disposable.

Dr. Alicia Neu, chief of pediatric nephrology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, serves as Relavo’s clinical sponsor.

Straythink

The team: Nikhil Baddam (KSAS ’21) and Owen Friesen (KSAS ’21)

The product: Haptic feedback gloves that make virtual reality more immersive.

Straythink wants to make touch come alive in what is often only an audiovisual virtual reality experience. VR gloves now in the marketplace use vibrations to stimulate the hand encountering an object. The glove being developed by Straythink, by contrast, uses selectiv stiffening rigidity, meaning the stiffness of the glove changes as the user “touches” objects.

More accurate touch in VR systems could be used by surgeons, soldiers and others who need to practice physically precise tasks.

Thanks in part to a Spark grant from FastForward U and a Digital daVinci Award from the Digital Media Center, Straythink was able to develop a single-finger prototyp, Straythink was able to develop a single-finger prototype of the glove earlier this year.

Click here to learn more about the Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund!

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