For medical devices, as with many medicines, the market for children is a small fraction of the adult market, and there are far fewer child-sized devices. But the need for pediatric medical devices exists, even if proper devices may not.
“It’s not simply a matter of scaling down adult equipment for pediatric use,” said Children’s Hospital bioengineer Matthew Maltese, PhD. “Pediatricians have long known that children are not just small adults, and adults are not just big children.”
Dr. Maltese is the principal investigator of the Philadelphia Regional Pediatric Medical Device Consortium (PPDC), which brings engineers and biomedical researchers from CHOP, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania to address the shortage of medical devices designed for children. The PPDC recently received a $1.5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One of only seven pediatric device consortia nationwide recently funded by the FDA, the consortium will provide clinical, business, and regulatory expertise, as well as seed funding, to help translate innovative ideas into commercial devices for use in young patients.
“For a variety of reasons, it is difficult to advance pediatric medical devices beyond the idea stage,” said Dr. Maltese. “We provide innovators with the support they need to transform concepts into practical and available medical devices that benefit children.”
Robert Levy, MD, who holds William J. Rashkind Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cardiology at CHOP and is a co-principal investigator of the PPDC, also sees opportunities to help children, saying that the consortium “will help to address unmet needs for pediatric medical devices.” Dr. Levy’s medical device experience is reflected in his 35 issued U.S. patents that have led to extensive licensing activities, both to established medical device companies and to start-ups. One such example is the CHOP spinout firm, Vascular Magnetics, which is developing magnetically guided devices to precisely deliver drugs to injured arteries in children and adults.
As the center of the nation’s largest pediatric care network, CHOP offers a large, diverse pool of pediatric patients, allowing for carefully regulated clinical trials to test potential medical devices.
In addition, the PPDC will benefit from Dr. Maltese’s own experience adapting medical devices for children in his position in Critical Care Medicine at CHOP. The Hospital is currently collaborating with industry partners to develop pediatric versions of existing FDA-approved cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) quality feedback tools developed for adults. These smartphone-sized devices measure motion and force on a patient’s chest during CPR to rapidly produce sound and visual prompts that improve the quality of CPR and save lives.
To read more about the PPDC, see the full press release.