Company will study ways its medical device can help astronauts

A Trumbull-based company has been awarded both state and federal grants to develop its medical technology for astronauts.

ZetrOZ, Inc. said the grants will help develop wearable sustained acoustic medicine (sam) ultrasound technology and clinically evaluate the effectiveness of the non-invasive self-applied treatment for management of lower back pain and back pain caused by herniated discs of the spine.

The federal $250,000 grant is from the NSBRI (National Space Biomedical Research Institute) which works with NASA under a cooperative agreement to develop and mature novel medical technologies that can benefit the health of crew members in space, as well as on people on Earth. Connecticut Innovations and the Small Business Innovation group supported $250,000 in grant funding to the space-bound project to increase innovative biotechnology jobs and manufacturing in Connecticut. The remaining $125,000 has been earmarked by ZetrOZ, Inc. for supporting the project.

“Ultrasound is a great platform for spaceflight, delivering both diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities” said Dr. Dorit Donoviel, NSBRI's Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead. “I envision that astronauts could use sam to accelerate the healing of musculoskeletal injuries (in the lower back and shoulders) both in space and on Earth during training. We are excited to facilitate the clinical validation study with sam to treat lower back pain.”

George K. Lewis, Jr., PhD, Company Co-Founder, Chief Scientific & Technology Officer and Principal Investigator for the grant adds, “Our OZ Inside highly efficient, lightweight and miniaturized ultrasound technology platform is a perfect fit for space flight and long range NASA missions since it can be powered from low voltage battery packs and easily recharged from solar cells—this also makes it great for ‘citizens of Earth.’”

“With the support of NSBRI and Connecticut Innovations, as well as our current clinical outcomes demonstrating that sustained acoustic medicine is an effective non-pharmaceutical approach for treating ‘Earth-bound’ pain symptoms such as knee arthritis and upper back pain, we are in a great position to develop a wearable sam solution for lower back pain.” said Dr. Lewis.

The specific aim of this study is to optimize sam therapy frequency and treatment dose for potential future use in astronauts who experience back pain as their spines elongate up to two inches while in the microgravity environment of space. The ZetrOZ technology platform enables delivery of therapeutic ultrasound treatment to modulate pain and inflammation in tissue for up to four hours daily and could be used by astronauts in Earth and space-flight conditions.

The multi-site clinical research portion of the project will kick off in early 2015 in Connecticut, Ohio and Utah involving 100 to 200 study participants suffering from lower-back pain. The ZetrOZ research and development team is gearing up for the work by modifying the current FDA-cleared sam product to include higher ultrasound intensity and modified therapeutic treatment regimens for targeting the herniated intravertebral disks of the spine.

“ZetrOZ continues to be on the cutting edge of wearable technology and pain therapy,” said David Wurzer, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Connecticut Innovations, “And we are gratified to be part of this latest innovative study to hopefully improve the lives of our nation’s astronauts and work on development of other helpful new technologies as well.”