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PROPEL's Endotronix: Next frontier for Internet of things: inside your body

Wednesday, May 21, 2014  
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By John Pletz May 21, 2014,

Wearable health devices such as Fitbit and Withings are getting lots of buzz, but a Woodridge-based company is betting that implantables will really save lives.

Endotronix Inc. developed a wireless sensor that measures pulmonary artery pressure from within the heart. The patient holds up a device about the size of an iPad Mini to his or her chest for about 15 seconds; the device measures the pressure and sends the information to the person's health care provider.

The company recently raised $1.6 million from undisclosed investors to commercialize the product. It hopes to begin trials in Europe later this year. The implantable device requires approval from the Food and Drug Administration before it can be sold in the U.S.

The company, which employs about a dozen people, moved from Peoria to Woodridge last year. It has raised about $4.5 million so far, according to securities filings.

Endotronix was founded by Harry Rowland, an engineer whose specialty is micro- and nanoscale plastics manufacturing, and Dr. Anthony Nunez, a cardiothoracic surgeon.

"We both had family who suffered from heart failure," says Mr. Rowland, 34, who was finishing his dissertation and researching better ways to make microsurgical robotic manipulators when he met Dr. Nunez in 2007.


Endotronix illustrates how the state's strengths in manufacturing and health care can lay the groundwork for building the tech economy. It's exactly the type of alchemy envisioned by the founders of UI Labs.

The Endotronix founders licensed wireless pressure-sensing technology that NASA was developing for astronauts, then developed a mobile reader for the device, which doesn't have a power source.

"We integrate data from wearable devices and make that information meaningful," Mr. Rowland said.

It starts with the device, which "measures pulmonary artery pressure inside the heart, which starts to rise months before a heart attack," he said. "There are warning signs."

But Endotronix also developed technology to capture the data and get it into the hands of the health care providers. Using data to keep patients' medical problems from getting worse and lowering the cost of monitoring them is a major focus of the government, hospitals and insurers.

That's why Mr. Rowland is paying close attention to CardioMems Inc., an Atlanta-based company that makes a similar device, which is undergoing a final review by the FDA.

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