NIR Diagnostics wins Wharton Business Plan Competition

NIR Diagnostics, InfraVue

NIR Diagnostics, cofounded by three Wharton MBA students and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Medicine, recently won the 2008-2009 Wharton Business Plan Competition.

The team, comprised of Wharton’s Pitamber Devgon, Xiaoming Fang and Bosun Hau and the School of Medicine’s Armen Karamanian, created a device, InfraVue (simulated commercial product, right), that identifies complex wound healing problems faster and more precisely than other products currently on the market.

Karamanian, set to graduate with a Ph.D. in pharmacology, said that in the United States alone, one amputation occurs every three minutes because of complex wounds that typically take two to six months to heal. A variety of treatments exist for complex wounds, but Karamanian said it is difficult to know which ones actually work. Physicians use rulers to measure the size of complex wounds—a low-tech system that is subject to human error. InfraVue, by contrast, employs lasers that penetrate the wound, without causing any damage, to gather information from inside the injury.

“So if you think of using the analogy of the iceberg—before, physicians were measuring the tip with the ruler,” Karamanian said. “Now [with InfraVue] you can get a sense of how big the iceberg is, what are the healing properties of the different layers of the iceberg.”

NIR Diagnostics was awarded a $20,000 prize for placing first in the competition and also won the $3,000 People’s Choice award. Karamanian said the group is putting all its winnings into the company and is working on securing the intellectual property.

“We have a working prototype today,” he said. “We have 20 patients in a human pilot clinical trial with very compelling data and we anticipate to be in the market by 2011, 2012.”

Originally published on May 5, 2009