Middle ear infections are the leading cause of hearing loss, surgery and antibiotic use, especially in children who are misdiagnosed up to half of the time using the current technology. OSF Ventures is joining a $5.2 million Series A investment in Champaign, Illinois based PhotoniCare Inc. and its TOMi Scope for non-invasive imaging of the middle ear.
Three other venture capital firms joined OSF Ventures in the investment round including i2E Ventures, Sony Corporation of America and Dreampact Ventures. The money will be used for further development of AI technology, and to ramp up sales, customer support and provider reimbursement.
PhotoniCare recently received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the TOMi hand-held medical device. Since 2013, the medical device start-up has been developing technology invented at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign by the company’s founders. Its new imager uses a novel application of lightwave technology known as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT).
The hand-held device allows physicians, for the first time, to directly visualize fluid in the middle ear where ear infections reside. The imager works even in the presence of wax – providing objective data for a diagnosis and treatment course.
Mayank Taneja, Director of Venture Investments, OSF said: “Ear pain and concerns about hearing are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. But, for decades, until now, technology to see inside the ear canal has not improved. Surgery and antibiotics are not always needed and we’re excited the TOMi Scope could reduce unnecessary care and costs for patients and families.”
Ryan Shelton, Co-Founder & CEO, PhotoniCare said: “At PhotoniCare we set out to solve the massive problem of frequent misdiagnosis of middle ear infections, and the overuse of antibiotics and referrals to surgery in children. We are excited to have the support of OSF Ventures which has a reputation for successful investments and we appreciate the partnership that will pilot the use of the TOMi Scope which will provide us with valuable feedback.”