Medical startup Storx Technologies improves fetal health and lowers the rate of C-sections. The team develops better standards than heart rate monitors for assessing fetal wellbeing — non-invasive measures for oxygen saturation. Without these tools, newborns run the risk of experiencing birth asphyxia, irreversible damage to brain cells.
Storx spun off from University of California research with early seed funding from CITRIS in 2016. Storx then received support from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The team joined the CITRIS Foundry Spring 2020 cohort and partners with UC Davis and UC Davis School of Medicine.
Soheil Ghiasi, Storx co-founder and UC Davis EECS professor, found inspiration for this product when his own child was born. Doctors recommended a C-section delivery, despite increased risks for the mother and newborn. The procedure costs more than natural delivery, and physicians may be held liable for harm. Ghiasi and co-founder Daniel Fong, electrical engineering PhD, recognized the opportunity to improve procedures.
“Some patterns are obviously alarming so doctors do an emergency C-section,” said Ghiasi. “And some patterns show there isn’t a problem. But there’s a gray area in the middle, which is referred to as ‘non-reassuring’ fetal heart rate traces.”
Ghiasi especially emphasizes the social impact as well as the marketability of his product, and the team has received interest from humanitarian organizations and funders such as MIT Solve and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
This year Storx began conducting human studies, now paused due to COVID-19. The team currently tests on animal models. If the pilot study goes well, they will launch during-labor studies and hope to petition the FDA for approval in late 2022. If all is successful, Storx plans to commercialize this noninvasive fetal pulse oximeter in order to help mothers, infants and the obstetricians who care for them.
Alumni with expertise in electrical engineering and computer science who enjoy social impact start-up work can contact Storx for employment opportunities. Learn more about Storx Technologies at https://www.storx-tech.com.
The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.
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