Tyson Ross, a Wright-Patterson Air Force base engineer, explains the automated growing rod he and colleague Casel Burnett have developed, pictured in a 2017 file photo. The rod can help growing children afflicted with scoliosis, they believe. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Franklin medical tech start-up wins $50K grant

A Dayton‐area medical device start-up, AMB Surgical, has been awarded $50,000 in grant funding after a national pitch competition.

The award came after the “Make Your Medical Device Pitch for Kids!” competition, hosted by the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation in late April, in College Park, Maryland.

As one of five competition winners, Franklin-based AMB also gains access to the consortium’s “Pediatric Device Innovator Accelerator Program,” led by MedTech Innovator, the Dayton Development Coalition said in a release Monday.

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The competition focused on medical devices for pediatric orthopedics and spine ailments, a sector that the FDA identified as an emerging under-served specialty lacking innovation, the coalition said.

“We share the consortium’s passion for improving the care of children needing orthopedic and spinal treatment, said Dan Sands, director and chief executive of AMB Surgical.

AMB Surgical was named after Ashley Mae Burnett, who was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was five years old.

The company’s device, dubbed “FLYTE,” offers a combination of miniature gearing, power, sensors and wireless communication technology. It can be controlled remotely, in other words.

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Scoliosis imposes a curvature of the spine. Children who suffer the condition can require surgeries to adjust “growing rods” which are placed along their spines as they grow, as often as twice a year.The surgeries can happen from ages eight to 18, costing an average of $250,000 each, Tyson Ross, an AMB co-founder, told the Dayton Daily News in a 2017 interview.

Ross and fellow company co-founder and Miamisburg native Casel Burnett white-boarded a concept and came up with a design for an “automated growing rod.” With wireless control, the rod attached to the spine can be remotely contracted or expanded as needed, sparing the needs for invasive surgeries.

“I said, ‘You know, you’re a mechanical engineer; I’m an electrical engineer. Let’s do something to fix this,’” Ross recalled telling Burnett in 2017. “We were both in tears.”

Ross is a principal scientist in the Controls, Power and Thermal Management division at the Air Force Research Laboratory, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Burnett is a engineering group manager at Toyota Motor Manufacturing of America.

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