Ishir Seth (C’20,W’20), Tanvi Kapur (W’19), Beatriz Go (W’19) and WenTao Zhang (C’19,W’19) make up the winning team, Nosoco Technologies, of this year’s Y-Prize. They will receive $10,000 for their plans for a new, improved catheter designed to stop infections at the source. They will also be entered into the semi-final round of the Penn Startup Challenge. The idea was inspired by Mr. Zhang’s grandfather, who died from complications due to a catheter-related infection.
Their plan is to incorporate micro-size crevices into the catheter wall to prevent or disrupt the formation of biofilms, a super-thin slime of bacteria that clings to a surface. Many biofilms are harmless, but when “bad” bacteria band together, it can cause infection. For hospital patients who need a catheter, such infections are a serious problem that costs insurers and hospitals $3.5 billion a year in the United States alone.
The group has worked with researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and CHOP on their idea, and now with the Y-Prize money, Nosoco will move toward testing the viability of the product. In vivo testing and clinical trials would come next.
The Y-Prize is a collaboration between Penn Engineering, Wharton’s William and Phyllis Mack Institute for Innovation Management, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship and the Penn Center for Innovation. Applicants submit a video pitch explaining their idea, why it’s needed and how they plan to make it happen.