Columbia firm gets state support to help develop retinal imaging device

County officials said Thursday that a county firm will be among state companies sharing in nearly $1.5 million in awards for life sciences innovation through the BioMaryland Center, an office within Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development.

Vasoptic Medical Inc., a Columbia-based member of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in Howard County, is among the seven firms receiving up to $200,000 each to accelerate the commercialization of treatments and technologies.

Vasoptic is being supported for its low-cost retinal imaging instrument, developed for the early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, which affects many people with diabetes. M. Jason Brooke, Vasoptic Medical Inc. CEO and co-founder, said the funding will help advance a prototype and get it to clinical study.

“Our device will help primary care providers diagnosis and manage eye disease for diabetes patients to prevent the onset of severe visual impairment and blindness,” Brooke said in a statement.

Vasoptic joined the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in November 2012.

Other Maryland companies receiving grants through BioMaryland include:

AsclepiX Therapeutics, LLC (Baltimore) -producing a drug which would reduce the number of eye injections for macular degeneration and improve patient vision.

Brain Sentry, Inc. (Bethesda) - developing a helmet mounted sensors which detect and count possible concussive injury hits for youth engaged in sports.

Clear Guide Medical (Baltimore) - creating ultrasound guided technology to make needle biopsy more accurate, faster, and safer.

Cordex Systems Inc. (Annapolis) – developing an enhanced blood pressure cuff to measure endothelial dysfunction, the earliest indicator of atherosclerosis.

Harpoon Medical Inc. (Stevensville) – producing a surgical tool which could enable surgeons to reliably repair the mitral valve using a minimally invasive beating-heart approach.

Otomagnetics (College Park) - a magnetic particle drug delivery system for treatment of sudden hearing loss and eventually common ear infections.

In addition, Johns Hopkins University's Dr. Alan Cheng also received funding to support his development of a system to assist with securing the puncture site during cardiac ablation therapy to compensate for the beating heart.