RALEIGH, N.C. -- Amy Rix is turning a technique that generations of her family have used to stop nosebleeds into a business.
Rix, trained as an emergency medical technician, has patented an invention she calls a nosebleed lip pack. It's basically a piece of soft material that is stuck under the upper lip and will, Rix said, stop nosebleeds in a minute or less.
Three years ago in Chapel Hill, N.C., Rix started RemedEase to bring the lip pack to market. Rix, who is also a research associate at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, is RemedEase's CEO and sole employee.
But now she's getting some help. The company recently raised about a half-million dollars from investors to make and test a prototype.
Among those who see the product's potential is Randy Myer, entrepreneurship professor at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School.
When he first heard about the lip pack four years ago, Myer said he considered the idea too simple to be original. But Rix hooked him with her patents.
"I thought, 'This gal is very serious about this,'" he said.
Since then, Myer has helped Rix recruit advisers and investors and is now the company's chairman. One adviser is James Buck, an executive at InnerPulse, a Durham, N.C., company that is developing a heart defibrillator.
"With an astounding 445 million episodes of recurring nosebleeds in the U.S. alone in 2007, there is clearly a large market," Buck said.
The lip pack has yet to prove itself in clinical tests. If it gets regulatory approval, it could benefit the 30 million to 40 million Americans who have frequent nosebleeds, including athletes, pregnant women, children and people using blood thinners.
Rix said her mother had a lot of nosebleeds when she was growing up. To stop the bleeding, Rix's grandmother would roll up a wad of wet paper and stick it under the child's upper lip. Later, her mother used the remedy on Rix's brother.
The pad restricts blood flow in two blood vessels that feed nosebleeds, Rix said. "It's like a Band-Aid."