Postpartum hemorrhage remains the leading cause of maternal death, with an estimated death every four minutes worldwide. But one small company with local roots hopes to save lives by changing the way hemorrhage is treated following childbirth.
InPress Technologies, with offices in San Luis Obispo and Mountain View at the Fogarty Institute for Innovation, has developed a device that stops bleeding by stimulating uterine contraction.
In about 80 percent of cases, postpartum hemorrhage occurs when a woman’s uterus fails to contract after childbirth. This causes the blood vessels to fully dilate and results in unobstructed bleeding.
Rather than use medicine or perform a hysterectomy or another invasive surgery, the single-use silicone device is inserted into the uterus following childbirth and helps to contract the uterus to its correct postpartum size, said Jessie Becker, chief executive officer of InPress Technologies.
It “facilitates the body’s natural response after childbirth,” she said.
The concept for the device was developed when Becker was a student at Cal Poly in 2011. At the time, she was coordinator of the San Luis Obispo HotHouse and moonlighting for InPress Technologies. When the two original founders decided to pursue other opportunities, Becker and Nathan Bair, a medical device engineer based in San Luis Obispo, kept working on it. Now, InPress Technologies is internationally certified to be a medical device manufacturer and employs three full-time people and seven part-time consultants.
It’s also in the middle of its first clinical trial, which has successfully treated eight women in Indonesia who had emergency postpartum hemorrhage. More trials will be conducted this year.
In the first half of 2015, InPress will work on obtaining regulatory approvals so the company can begin selling the device in the United States and Europe. Specialty Silicone Fabricators in Paso Robles is manufacturing the device for the company.
“We have done one official production run, and those were the devices that we used for the clinical trial and testing,” Becker said.
In terms of functionality, she said the device is “ready to go.”
“The technology that we have is so simple and it’s been working so quickly, it has the potential to change the way postpartum hemorrhage is treated domestically and globally, and that’s what we’re really excited about,” Becker said. “It’s designed to work with the body's natural mechanism and can dramatically reduce the cost of health care and reduce the risk of loss of life as well.”