New biomedical start-up Inovan, Inc. is pioneering a new way to prevent infection in patients who receive total joint replacements.


Inovan CEO Meredith Schroeder will present at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, July 10.


Inovan’s product is a bone void filler, a solution to help reduce the incidence of infection in total joint replacements. The idea has roots in the research of Inovan co-founders Amanda and Benjamin Brooks.


“It really started with them,” Schroder said. “It started when they were working on their post-docs at the University of Utah.”


The difference between Inovan’s filler and other available fillers is antibiotics—Inovan’s filler is a putty that releases antibiotics internally over the course of six to eight weeks while allowing bone to grow.


“The current products don’t have any antibiotics associated with them,” Schroeder said.


Instead, patients who receive joint replacements by current means are put on systemic antibiotics. Existing bone fillers are also soaked in antibiotics prior to implantation, and these wind up being very rapidly released. A slow release is more desirable for infection prevention than a quick release. Other bone void filler products are also more invasive.


“Bone cement often doesn’t provide intimate contact with the host one,” Schroeder noted, leaving spaces where bacteria can get in.


Schroeder, who holds a Ph.D in microbiology, came on board with the Brooks’ project about five years ago.


“Over the last six months we kind of just became really serious,” Schroeder said. In that time they’ve formally established Inovan, Inc., taking the step from research into business.


“We’re looking to raise some seed money,” Schroeder said.


They’ve participated in the NDSU Innovation Challenge in the past as well as received a number of grants, and they recently secured a meeting with Johnson & Johnson.


One of the largest hurdles for any biomedical start-up to clear on the way to market is FDA approval. Schroeder notes Inovan would like to conduct a large animal study as well.


Co-founder Benjamin Brooks has an MBA degree and prior experience in biomedical start-ups, while for Schroeder Inovan marks a first serious foray into entrepreneurship.


“It’s exciting because I get to learn something new from the business side every single day,” she said.


For more information on Inovan, Inc., visit 1 Million Cups Fargo takes place each Wednesday from 9:15-10:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.


Austin Gerth