SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah biotech firm has developed seemingly simple solutions to rather high-tech and potentially harmful problems. BloXR (pronounced BLOX-er) — a Salt Lake City start-up company — has created two products aimed at better protecting medical professionals and patients from radiation exposure, including a lotion that blocks X-rays and light-weight aprons and thyroid collars the company says are more effective at blocking radiation.
The lotion uses bismuth oxide to create a ceramic material that has the same effectiveness as typical lead-based radiation protection, but without the added toxicity and weight, Rai Chowdhary, vice president of operations and engineering for BloXR, said.
"Because we are using a ceramic, it is completely non-toxic and benign, and yet you get the benefit of the blocking from the heavy element," Chowdhary said. The product is currently under review for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
He said the lotion is meant to be applied over the entire hand and covered by a latex glove, allowing full dexterity by the doctor or other medical professional as they perform procedures. Alternatively, they could also slip the glove on their bare hand and apply the cream on the outer latexl, he added.
Either application would provide the necessary protection against radiation, Chowdhary said. The lotion is removed with water.
The apron and thyroid collar are made with the same bismuth oxide compound, but in a solid form and sewn into a garment made from the same material used in surgical scrubs and hospital gowns. The result is a garment that is 30 percent to 50 percent lighter than traditional lead aprons and is also eco-friendly and disposable, he said.
Traditional lead-based garments are not easily disposed of, Chowdhary explained, because of the hazardous nature of lead. Also, medical professionals have complained of neck and back pain from heavy lead garments, which typically weigh up to 20 pounds, due to hours of wear daily over extended period of time, he said.
BloXR has applied for several patents for its two products and recently "graduated" from a program developed in conjunction with the Utah Science and Technology Research Initiative and BioInnovations Gateway — a high-technology business incubator designed for emerging biotech and medical device companies.
BiG provided BloXR with a lab and office space, equipment, technical resources and personnel — essential tools the new start-up business used to grow and enter the competitive life-science industry. BloXR has recently entered into the manufacturing and distribution phase of their products and will move into a new facility at Sorenson Research Park near Taylorsville in July. The company also plans to hire approximately 12 employees by next year.