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Fayetteville Company Wins NIH SBIR Grant to Develop Drug Delivery System for Diabetics

October 5th, 2016 by Rebecca Norman

SFC Fluidics’ Bradley Ledden and Anna Washburn

SFC Fluidics’ Bradley Ledden and Anna Washburn

SFC Fluidics Inc., ASBTDC client and Fayetteville-based medical research company, recently won a $225,000 NIH SBIR Phase I grant to develop a dual hormone patch pump for Type 1 diabetic patients.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and affects 4 million worldwide.

SFC Fluidics has exclusive license to a suite of technologies (ePump, latching microvalves, and electrochemical flow sensors) that will enable this leap forward in the state-of-the art for drug delivery.

“Our team has been working to realize the full benefit of our technologies for more than a decade, and we are very excited to be able to use them in a patch pump that will improve the quality of life for Type 1 diabetics around the world, said Anna Washburn, SFC’s projects coordinator.

Limitations of Current Technology

Today’s wearable patch pumps for Type 1 diabetics are limited to the delivery of insulin only. “SFC’s dual pump technology will allow for the safe and controlled delivery of both insulin and glucagon from a single patch pump,” said Forrest Payne, principal investigator on the project. The proposed patch pump will be small and discreet and will be particularly useful for adolescents and young adults in maintaining proper glycemic control.

Advantages of SFC Fluidics’ Proposed Drug Delivery System

Once SFC’s dual hormone patch pump is commercial-ready, it will offer enhanced benefits to the Type 1 diabetic population.

“In addition to controlled dosing of both insulin and glucagon, SFC’s flow confirmation sensor will make sure that proper dosing has occurred,” said Payne. “The sensor will alert to occlusions, leaks, depleted drug supply, or any mechanical/electrical failure instantly, which is a substantial advancement over the occlusion sensors currently in use.”

SFC’s preliminary discussions with endocrinologists show a need for an artificial pancreas that can deliver insulin and glucogon. Additionally, the product must be convenient and discreet so that the device does not interfere with patient lifestyles.

Ashley Shemain, SFC’s vice president of Marketing and Business Development, noted, “Physicians anticipate that when a device meets these goals, then they will be recommending adoption of the technology to all their patients.”

ASBTDC Assistance

For a Phase I NIH proposal, the space allowed for description of the market is very limited. However, Washburn said, “the background market research provided by ASBTDC helped us to make sure that we are targeting a product that will ultimately be very competitive. We look forward to collaborating with ASBTDC on the in-depth market research that is required for a Phase II Commercialization Plan.”

Tip for Prospective NIH SBIR Applicants

The SFC Fluidics team shared a recommendation for writing a winning NIH SBIR proposal. “Understand your competition!” said Washburn. “A well-written SBIR proposal will have a strong definition of how the proposed product will be an advancement over existing technologies.”

The next NIH SBIR/STTR proposal submission deadline for the agency’s Omnibus solicitations is Jan. 5, 2017.  Arkansas companies who would like assistance with the development of their proposal applications are encouraged to contact Rebecca Norman at 501.683.7700 or

NIH SBIR Phase I award abstract