NEWS: UCI Spinout Seeking $1.2 Million

core team of Cactus Medical

Ninety percent of all children experience at least one ear infection before age 5. It’s the leading cause of “unnecessary” antibiotic use in children and one of the most common reasons kids are taken to their pediatrician or an ER.

Many suspected ear infections are not truly infections and do not  antibiotic treatment, according to the founder of an Irvine startup.

This company, which has developed technology to detect childhood ear infections, is seeking $1.2 million in a seed round, based on a $6.4 million pre-money valuation.

Cactus Medical, a UCI spinout, is developing two products. The first is a home-health product that integrates its tech with the familiar in-ear thermometer. The second is a professional otoscope, which physicians normally use to inspect the ears and help with clinical diagnosis.

The company claims that its tech will “save parents heartache, time and money and facilitate reduced antibiotic use through improved clinical diagnosis,” CEO Samir Shreim told OC Startups Now.

So far, Cactus Medical has been bootstrapped with $175,000 from grants, family and friends. Of that amount, $111,000 is in equity.

The Cactus team recently completed a clinical feasibility study with 30 children, using its R&D prototype. The study showed its tech, which the company calls “optical tympanometery” is 98% accurate and can even work through ear wax, Shreim said.

Cactus Medical plans to market its products for sale in the U.S. and abroad, pending regulatory approval, while seeking an exit with a strategic partner.


The startup launched about a year ago. It anticipates bringing its thermometer to market in two years and its otoscope to market in 3.5 years.

Shreim had been working in the industry after getting a Ph.D. at UCI in 2011. He returned to UCI specifically to address ear infection diagnosis. He and his team invented the core tech at UCI and their clinical study went through UCI’s institutional review board.

Cactus Medical is now licensing its IP from UCI.  Two of its founders are UCI faculty members. The startup wants to “take advantage” of the resources provided by UCI Applied Innovation at the Cove, although it’s not part of its Wayfinder incubator.

Jon Wampler, the former CEO of Pacificare of California, is on its board of advisors.



About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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