Start-Up News June 2007
New incubators are helping to fill a resource gap between universities looking for homes for their early stage medical device technologies and individual entrepreneurs looking to move their innovative projects out of the garage.
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Recent safety issues with drug-eluting stents may have opened the door ever so slightly for cardiac surgeons and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery to stage a small but noticeable comeback in the treatment of coronary artery disease.
For emerging device companies, the course of success in coronary surgery markets never did run smooth, but progress in anastomosis devices has been particularly halting. That's not to say that start-ups can't make it here, though. Cardica is making inroads to the market, and Health Research International, in its recent report, "US Opportunities in Surgical Coronary Revascularization," which forecasts a 14% growth rate in the market over the next several years, identifies several young companies with promising devices in development.
In cardiac surgery, the slow shift to perform coronary bypass graft procedures off-pump has turned anastomotic device technology, a long dormant area of product development, into a hot subject at clinical meetings and attracted the attention of large and small device companies. One start-up, Ventrica, was founded to focus on a new bypass procedure, but shifted its emphasis to an important component of that procedure: an automated coronary anastomotic connector. The company's magnetic technology has given it a head-start on this hardest part of the bypass connector puzzle. Some industry experts and surgeons believe that an easy-to-use, reproducible, automated anastomotic device will boost adoption of off-pump bypass surgery, which has lagged far below initial expectations and will also be essential to the future of robotic surgery. Ventrica's challenge is to attract new groups of surgeons to this approach rather than simply preach to already-converted early adopters.