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'A different way of treating a wound'
August 17, 2011

EO2 Concepts technician Joey Monosmith works on one of EO2 Concepts' TransCu O2 tissue oxygenating units in the company's Network Boulevard headquarters. Photo: William Luther

By Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News

Officials at a San Antonio wound-care company say they've found a better way to treat hard-to-heal wounds like diabetic foot ulcers, venous leg ulcers and pressure ulcers.

No, it's not Kinetic Concepts Inc. In the shadows of the KCI Tower off of Interstate 10 West, in the University Business Park, EO2 Concepts is ramping up the rollout of a device - the TransCu O2 - that provides a continuous supply of pure, low-dose oxygen to treat wounds.

"We think that we have brought a true game-changer in the way wounds are treated," EO2 Concepts President and CEO Michael Wells said.

The four-year-old company, which employs 25, received Federal Drug Administration clearance two years ago this week after getting positive outcomes in treating animals. But EO2 Concepts wanted to duplicate the results in humans before publicizing its findings.

The continuous diffusion of oxygen therapy using the TransCu O2 device has been used to treat wounds that failed to close under other treatment methods, including negative-pressure wound-therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and antibiotics, EO2 Concepts officials said.

"We're getting what's termed in the industry as the train wrecks ... the harder-to-heal wounds," Chief Technology Officer Mark Q. Niederauer explained.

It took an average of 53 days for the wounds to close after being treated with the oxygen therapy. The wounds had been open an average of 200 days before the treatment, Niederauer said.

The company estimates the market for the therapy at $3.2 billion.

Wells didn't want to draw comparisons between EO2's oxygen therapy and KCI's negative-pressure wound therapy.

"It's a different way of treating a wound," said Wells, who once worked for KCI. "The design of that therapy (negative-pressure wound therapy) can't take a wound to full closure."

KCI spokesman Mike Barger declined to comment. But in an email, he said three randomized clinical trials show KCI's Vacuum Assisted Closure Therapy improves time to heal, leads to fewer amputations, results in positive healing outcomes and is cost-effective care in treating diabetic foot ulcers.

The TransCu O2 is a 9-ounce hand-held device that contains a fuel cell that converts oxygen into water and then into pure oxygen, which is delivered via a tube that is placed on the wound bed and sealed.

The oxygen is delivered continuously throughout the day. The device has to be recharged daily and has a working life of more than two years.

Dr. Frank Steele, a North Carolina surgeon, first tried the oxygen therapy on an 83-year-old patient who didn't want to drive 70 miles roundtrip every day to undergo hyperbaric-oxygen therapy to treat a diabetic foot ulcer.
The wound healed in less than two months, Steele said.

"We're getting good results with it and, to me, that's pretty impressive," Steele said. "There must have been thousands of doctors that tried extra oxygen on wounds (to) see if it'd heal them up. (But) if you blow this dry gas across a wound, you just dry it up like a chip. It just doesn't necessarily heal it up."

The TransCu O2, though, delivers a low dose of oxygen so as not to dry out the wound. The wound needs to remain moist to absorb the oxygen.

The average treatment costs about $60 a day, Wells said. Medicare doesn't reimburse for the treatment.

Almost 300 patients have been treated with the therapy, he said.

Wells declined to share financial details, other than to say it has received about $10 million in funding from high-net-worth individuals. It has not received any financing from venture capital firms.

EO2 has partnered with the VGM Group, a large Iowa-based home medical-equipment service provider to distribute the product.

EO2 has brought its manufacturing operations in-house. It currently can assemble about 400 of the devices a day, though it eventually expects to automate the operation.

 

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