By Brian Chee, Partner, Polaris Partners
As a West Point graduate and Gulf War Veteran, I am especially proud when our portfolio companies develop new technology or services that benefit the health of our soldiers.
Just today, Polaris’s Arsenal Medical and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced a $15.5 million award to advance its foam technology product through regulatory approval. Arsenal’s foam technology stabilizes abdominal wounds, the leading cause of preventable battlefield deaths.
For years, researchers have been looking for a way to address battlefield abdominal wounds, with disappointing results.
In just two years, Arsenal’s team worked the problem and designed a promising solution. Pre-clinical data has shown the ability of the foam to treat severe hemorrhage for up to three hours in a lethal model of liver injury. And for the “golden hour” — the 60 minutes needed to get a soldier to a treatment zone — the technology model has had 100 percent success. The foam’s clinical development is being led by Dr. David King, an experienced combat trauma surgeon practicing at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Our soldiers can face other afflictions as well: combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and addiction, depression, and anxiety related disorders.
Finding a psychiatric care model that our soldiers can trust has been a substantial barrier to winning these private wars.
To help overcome this barrier, Polaris’ Ascend Health developed the successful Freedom Care Military Program.
The program was built from the ground up to address the very specific care needs of our military, including inpatient, residential and partial hospital programs that also welcome military spouses and their children. Freedom Care provides specialized patient programs, adherence to Department of Defense medication policy, and comprehensive clinical and command updates.
Ascend’s Freedom Care Military Program was an essential component of the company’s strategic acquisition by Universal Health (NYSE: UHS) earlier this year.
The mental health needs of our soldiers and veterans are also being addressed through the use of NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy.
One of the early adopters of NeuroStar TMS therapy was Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Since FDA approval, many of our active and veteran soldiers have received NeuroStar TMS therapy. Neuronetics received FDA approval in 2008 for the first—and still the only—TMS device for patients with Major Depressive Disorder who have not benefited from initial antidepressant treatment.
In a 2009 Walter Reed press release, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Grammer, Chief of Inpatient Psychiatry at Walter Reed, said, “Having TMS demonstrates the Military’s willingness to bring cutting edge technology and care to the best patients in the world, our Warriors,” Dr. Grammer said. “Most importantly, we now have a new option to treat patients who have not responded to medications that has minimal side-effects and a large margin of safety.”
We at Polaris are especially honored to be involved in these endeavors and salute the teams at each of these companies for their special work on behalf of our U.S. Military.
Walter Reed First Military Hospital to Use Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Treat Depression, Walter Reed Press Release.