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LOCAL FIRM HAS GROWTH PRESCRIPTION
PLATFORM TECHNOLOGIES SEEKS $5 MILLION FROM INVESTORS

Platform Technologies Holdings LLC, an Orchard Park firm that is developing a series of medical devices, is trying to raise $5 million to finance its product development and marketing efforts.

The company, which plans to build a 17,900-square-foot headquarters in the Commerce Green Industrial Center in East Aurora, is headed by William H. Burns Jr., the former president and chief executive officer of Matrx Medical Inc. in Orchard Park.

Burns said he formed Platform Technologies as the umbrella group for a series of product development and sales and marketing initiatives involving medical devices.

The most mature ventures include BioVector, which is building a sales force that Burns hopes will reach 50 people within a year to sell and market medical products and devices for both Platform Technologies and other firms that have developed their own products.

Another more advanced venture is Minrad Inc., a company that has developed a medical device that uses lasers to increase the accuracy of surgical procedures, such as biopsies, while reducing the amount of radiation from X-rays.

Less advanced on the development front is Medical Infusion Technology Inc., which is developing pre-filled, disposable IV bags that do not depend on gravity to move the solution from the bag to the patient.

The final firm under the Platform Technologies umbrella is Fertility Acoustics Inc., which is developing products that will help women become pregnant by allowing them to more accurately determine when they are most fertile.

By combining all four firms under a single umbrella, Burns said each of the ventures will have access to the funds that Platform Technologies hopes to raise, while investors will be able to reduce their risk by putting their money in several different firms.

"All of these ventures are at different stages," Burns said.

More than a third of the proceeds from the offering will go to Minrad, which is on the verge of introducing a system developed by two University at Buffalo researchers, Drs. Robert Lifeso and Michael Landi, that helps physicians achieve greater accuracy with fluoroscopically guided surgery.

The Minrad device uses X-rays and lasers to locate an internal target, for a procedure such as a biopsy or surgery to install a rod in a broken leg. Unlike conventional methods, which require repeated X-rays to help the doctor determine if they still are on target, the Minrad system uses a laser to locate the target and acts as a guide during the procedure.

It enables the surgeon to avoid further X-rays and limits the radiation exposure to the surgical staff and the patient.

$130 million market potential

The device also should reduce the number of false readings on biopsies by making it more likely that the surgical needle used in the procedure hits the targeted area, he said. As many as 20 percent of all deep tissue biopsies, done on breasts, livers or spleens, produce negative readings that are incorrect.

Burns said fluoroscopically guided surgical procedures account for about 10 percent of all operations, but are responsible for about 90 percent of the radiation exposure in operating rooms.

"We believe we will reduce surgical time, increase accuracy and reduce radiation," he said.

With about 90,000 fluoroscopes in use worldwide, Burns said he thinks the market potential for the Minrad device could reach $130 million, plus another $85 million for disposable accessories, such as surgical drapes and biopsy needles.

Burns said Platform Technologies plans to price the Dual Radiation Targeting System at about $4,000 each, which he thinks will be low enough to encourage hospitals to purchase them. Minrad will receive a continuing stream of revenue from the sale of the disposable accessories.

"We're taking a razor and blade approach," he said.

Minrad already has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the device. It also has been approved for use in Europe.

Minrad also is close to an agreement with Atmos International to distribute the devices in Europe.

Minrad's sister company, BioVector, will handle the sales and marketing functions in the United States, using a network of sales agents that Burns hopes expand to from the current 27 representatives to 50 within a year.

The idea behind BioVector is to put an experienced sales force in place that fledgling medical products firms can use to market their devices, rather than the more costly alternative of doing it on their own.

Rand invested $410,000

Burns said many fledgling medical products firms have good devices, but spend all of their resources on product development, which leaves them with no expertise or funds to build a sales organization.

"The sales organization is vital," Burns said. "We want to be a magnet for proprietary products."

Burns said if Atmos meets its minimum purchase commitments, both Minrad and BioVector, which is earmarked to receive 28 percent of the offering's proceeds, could be profitable in their second years.

"The sales force is dependent on a variety of devices, so you get a portfolio effect," said Allen F. (Pete) Grum, the president of Rand Capital Corp., a Buffalo venture capital firm that already has invested $410,000 in BioVector.

Platform Technologies' other ventures are less advanced in their development.

Medical Infusion Technology is developing a series of pre-filled intervenous products that can be used at home and do not rely on gravity, as the conventional method of hanging an IV bag on a pole above the patient does.

Cut pharmacy, nursing time

The non-gravity method will help keep the distribution of the drugs at a more even pace. And because the bags can be pre-filled at high speed, they could save money by reducing pharmacy and nursing time.

"Nobody else has a pre-filled product that's on the market today," Burns said.

Platform Technologies' other venture is Fertility Acoustics Inc., which is developing methods to help women determine when they are the most fertile, using a home blood test similar to the home tests used by diabetics.

Fertility Acoustics also is working on a system that would determine when a woman is most fertile by measuring her ability to hear certain high-frequency sounds. Women lose 15 percent to 30 percent of their hearing ability in certain frequency ranges when they begin to ovulate, and the Fertility Acoustics device would measure those changes, Burns said.

Medical Infusion Technology and Fertility Acoustics are scheduled to receive 14 percent of the offering's proceeds apiece.

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