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Posted on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 6 a.m.

University of Michigan spinoff Tangent Medical Technologies developing new IV device

By Nathan Bomey

The poor performance of typical intravenous (IV) drug delivery systems prompted three University of Michigan researchers to pursue a new technological solution to the routine medical process.

Their innovation became Tangent Medical Technologies Inc., one of two startup companies created by fellows from U-M’s Medical Innovation Center. The company has established its headquarters in Ann Arbor with plans to continue developing the prototype of its Novacath device.

Tangent Medical Technologies.JPG

Tangent Medical Technologies co-founders (l-r) Adrienne Harris, Elyse Kemmerer and Steven White stand next to an injectable training arm with an IV system at their Packard Street office.

Angela J. Cesere |

Tangent has secured $750,000 in private funding from a variety of investors to pursue the technology, the founders said.

Elyse Kemmerer, director of market development and cofounder of Tangent, said the shortcomings of existing IV systems sparked the idea for Tangent’s peripheral IV device.

“It’s a very common device and they fail about half the time,” she said. “Every time the catheter fails, you have to take it out and put in a new one, and that takes up valuable nursing time, it’s a big hassle for them and it’s also the cost.”

Kemmerer said some 275 million IV devices are sold every year at a price of $5 to $6. According to Hospital Pharmacy Journal, “no major changes have occurred in the available (IV) systems” in more than 10 years.

“We wanted to really wipe all the existing stuff out of our minds and say, if we had to do this without knowing anything about what was out there, what would be the most efficient, effective and appropriate way to deliver fluids to patients?” said Adrienne Harris, a cofounder and director of product development.

The company is not releasing details about its technology because it’s still waiting to secure patent rights. However, U-M said in a press release that the device would “change the way IVs are used for hospitalized patients.”

Kemmerer said a key aspect of Tangent’s device is that it incorporates catheter stabilization capability, which currently requires purchasing add-on pieces that can increase the cost of the entire IV system by 60 percent. She said that even with the catheter stabilization capability, Tangent’s IV system will be cost competitive with today’s basic IV systems.

The device is the result of a multi-disciplinary research effort conducted under the auspices of the fellowship program at the Medical Innovation Center, which was formed three years ago to promote research activities that bring together experts from a variety of areas.

Brenda Jones, managing director of the U-M Medical Innovation Center, said the center created an environment where companies like Tangent can flourish.

“What we’re trying to do in Michigan is develop this type of talent,” she said. “This is what the fellowship is all about.”

Kemmerer has a doctoral degree in neuroscience and experience in marketing, and Harris has a graduate degree in biomedical engineering. Cofounder Steve White has a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering, and Merrell Sami is a physician.

White said the diverse team also sought out advice and consultation from a variety of industry players to influence the design of their new IV device.

“We brought in nurses who use this, we brought in people from the business school, people from the engineering school and people from the medical school as well as some surgeons,” White said. “There was a big cross-section of people who actually use the IVs and people who put in IVs and people who have never seen an IV.”

The founders recruited Surgical Solutions Inc. founder Hank Brown to lead the company as CEO. Brown also recruited physicians and investors to pool private funds to generate the $750,000 in seed funding.

The company is contracting with an engineering consulting firm in Kalamazoo and regulatory consultants to conduct some of the work it needs to complete to continue developing the product.

Tangent hopes to apply for market clearance under the Food and Drug Administration’s 510(k) category, which would allow the company to start selling the device. Kemmerer said the company hopes to have the device on the market by mid-2011.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Tue, Jul 6, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

Mr. Bomey - Is the new device in the photo? Thank you.