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Children's National Hospital spin-off AlgometRx among awardees of JLABS @ Washington, DC QuickFire Challenge

Award includes one-year residency at Children's National Research & Innovation Campus

AlgometRx, a company developing a medical device aiming to objectively measure pain in real time, is among the  companies awarded a JLABS @ Washington, DC Children’s QuickFire Challenge. The award includes one year of residency at JLABS @ Washington, DC, located on the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, when it opens early in 2021 at the historic former Walter Reed Army Medical Center site. 

A spin-off company from Children’s National Hospital, AlgometRx’s novel technology was developed by hospital pain medicine expert Julia Finkel, M.D.  Along with a one-year residency at the new JLABS facility, AlgometRx will receive mentorship from experts at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and grant funding to help support its continued advancement to commercialization. 

A non-invasive handheld device, AlgometRx aims to capture real-time images of a patient’s pupillary response and applies proprietary algorithms to determine the patient’s pain type and intensity, assigning an objective pain score called the “nociceptive index.”  After administering pain therapy to the patient, AlgometRx would then be used to potentially measure its efficacy, aiding clinicians in achieving a more precise and personalized approach to pain treatment.

A pediatric anesthesiologist, Dr. Finkel has most recently focused on refining the nociceptive index for potential clinical application. The AlgometRx platform technology is the result of more than 10 years of research and development by Dr. Finkel at Children’s National, where she also serves as Director of Research and Development for Pain Medicine at the hospital’s Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.  Her work was inspired by her desire to find a better way to measure and treat pain in neonates and other nonverbal pediatric patients. The resulting technology is intended to be applicable for patients of any age, from newborns to adults. 

“I am grateful to Children’s National and to Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS for the chance to be a part of the new research and development campus and the culture of pediatric innovation being championed there,” says Dr. Finkel. “I am also excited to join the Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS global community and connect with their experts, as we aim to advance AlgometRx to commercialization.” 

Dr. Finkel notes that the current standard of care for pain assessment, the one-to-10 pain scale, is subjective, generally reflecting intensity and is one-dimensional, therefore increasing the likelihood of misdiagnosis, under-treatment or over-treatment. “My goal is for pain to be objectively measured, both its types as well as intensity, just as a clinician would measure blood pressure or heart rate, so that treatment can be more precise and effective,” she adds.  

Noting that her research and development of AlgometRx has been supported by Children’s National since its earliest days, Dr. Finkel says it is especially meaningful to be among the first residents of JLABS @ Washington, DC on the new Children’s National Research & Innovation campus. 

“The Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus will be a place where people from all over the world, with big ideas on how to improve children's health, can gather and work together to take their ideas from concept to reality,” says Kurt Newman, M.D., president and CEO of Children’s National.  “I am so proud that a company led by a Children's National physician has been invited to be a part of JLABS and our research and innovation campus. Dr. Finkel’s innovation is an ideal example of the kind of game-changing pediatric health care advancement we want to nurture, together with our great partner JLABS, at the new campus.” 

Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS is a global network of no-strings-attached incubators for innovative companies from across the pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and health technology sectors. Its Quickfire Challenges aim to identify, support and accelerate the most promising ideas in health care. AlgometRx applied to the JLABS @ Washington, DC Children’s Quickfire Challenge with its potential application in pediatric oncology for patients experiencing peripheral neuropathy, which is pain and discomfort mainly in the hands and feet, resulting from chemotherapy-related nerve damage.

With proximity to federal research institutions and agencies, universities, academic research centers and the onsite Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS incubator, the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus aims to create a rich ecosystem of public and private partners to help bolster pediatric innovation and commercialization. Phase one of the campus, which is slated to begin opening in the first quarter of 2021, will be home to the Children’s National Center for Genetic Medicine and Research; the hospital’s Rare Disease Institute; a comprehensive primary care pediatric clinic; and a 12,000 sq. ft. Virginia Tech biomedical research facility. Combining the strengths of Children’s National with its partners, the campus aims to nurture innovation and drive advancements with the goal of saving and improving the lives of children.

Media contact: Diana Troese | 443-844-9060

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