A sensor-enhanced needle guide, called the JEM device, that may reduce pain and save costs for patients on dialysis was among the 15 winners of the KidneyX Redesign Dialysis phase 1 competition.
Nephrology News & Issues spoke with Philip Libman, CEO of Access for Life Inc., and Daniel Nadis, the company’s executive chair, about the development of the JEM device and how it could be beneficial for patients.
“The statistics of dialysis patients aren’t very good because the vascular system is not made for repetitive vascular access. Don’t forget, these patients undergo dialysis at least three times a week, which means they have two needles being stuck into their veins three times a week,” Libman said. “Veins aren’t made for that.”
The technology guides the needle through an opening in the skin to make cannulation safe and prevents puncture holes from being made in the patient’s veins which are called blood holes. With the use of sensors, the JEM device sends an alert if the needle is close to perforating the back wall of the vein or if the needle becomes dislodged — a rare occurrence that can be fatal, according to Libman. This feature aims to preserve vein health and gathers real-time data about what is happening inside of the patient’s veins. The needle guide and sensors could allow home dialysis to be safer and easier for patients, according to the sources.
“We are solving a huge clinical problem of repetitive vascular access with chronic patients and then because we’re sensor-enhanced dialysis for the first time ever, we’re gathering data in real time about what’s going on inside the veins so that we can act as an early warning system when and if stenosis or thrombosis is imminent. We therefore preserve vein health in a way that nobody else is doing.” Libman said.
The sources also noted the potential cost savings that could be linked to use of the device.
“Our technology is dealing with extending those lives significantly. By not having to have surgeries, we lower the cost to the system significantly and of course, we eliminate risks of infection,” Nadis, said. “By getting regular data on each person, we allow the system to get more efficient at figuring out when each patient may need care and lower costs by handling them without an emergency circumstance.”
To date, the JEM device has undergone three rounds of testing to prove its functionality and will eventually go through multiple clinical trials. Also, research is being conducted on how data gathered by the sensors could influence the way in which nephrologists and vascular surgeons care for their patients.
“We anticipate short training because instead of just blindly sticking a needle into a vein, the way it’s been done for the last 45 years, there will be a permanent guide that comes right up to the skin and it’ll make penetration safer and simpler. So, the training should be minimal in this regard,” Libman said. – by Alexandria Brooks
Disclosures: Libman and Nadis report no relevant financial disclosures.