Sung Hoon Kang, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a fellow in the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, has received a grant through the Bisciotti Foundation Translational Fund. The grant funds will go toward developing a 3D-printed medical device that simplifies a complicated vascular procedure.
Established with a generous multiyear gift from the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation, the fund provides $300,000 annually in seed money to advance Johns Hopkins discoveries on a commercial path. Recipients are awarded from $25,000 and $100,000 to conduct their work during a period of up to nine months. For this year’s funding round, 26 applications were submitted. Six finalists presented their work in late January to an outside panel of researchers, other scientists, and investors.
Kang was one of four faculty members to receive a grant for his project “Vaso-Lock: Replacing Sutures for Faster, Easier, and Safer Microvascular and Vascular Anastomosis.”
Microvascular and vascular anastomosis are highly specialized surgical techniques of hand-sewing together blood vessels during plastic and reconstructive surgery along with many other surgical procedures. While common procedures, they require years of training and practice, and hours to complete in the operating room. Kang, working with a team of vascular and plastic surgeons, used 3D printing to prototype Vaso-Lock, which holds together free vascular ends instead of requiring stitches. The device is made from materials approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and it is biocompatible.
By simplifying a complex surgical technique, the inventors hope to reduce operating time while allowing more vessel coupling during the procedure. The researchers also want to improve patient outcomes and safety, and make microvascular and vascular anastomosis more globally available.
The Vaso-Lock team have also received funding from the Cohen Translational Engineering Fund and the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII). They participated in the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, during which they interviewed 40 surgeons, specialized operating room staff members, and industry workers to identify anastomosis challenges and help refine their business plan.
The team plans to launch a startup to commercialize the innovation.