Noteworthy news from medtech start-ups. This month we profile Epicardial Technologies Inc., which is developing technology for percutaneous epicardial ablation of heart arrhythmias, Svelte Medical's technology for enhancing stent deliverability, Bioring's biodegradable annuloplasty ring and Advanced BioSensor's second-generation glucose monitoring device.
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The safety profile of drug eluting stents appears to be improving with second and third-generation designs that utilize thinner struts (which are believed to reduce vessel injury and turbulent blood flow) and minimize or eliminate the polymer coating. However, many researchers in this field believe the future of stenting will be defined by completely biodegradable stents that do their job of propping open the vessel until healing occurs, and gradually degrade over a period of months or years, leaving nothing permanently behind in the vessel.
Growth by innovation is almost considered a birthright in interventional cardiology, and based on presentations at this year's Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics meeting, held this September in San Francisco, it seems clear that innovation still reigns supreme in this specialty. However, as in other medical device markets, ongoing economic and regulatory pressures are taking their toll, particularly in the drug-eluting stent market, as the field adjusts to a new era of cost control and economic uncertainty.
Despite the best intentions and brightest innovation, start-ups haven't been able to tap into the huge potential presented by the vascular closure market. Ten years after the first generation devices made it to market, the original two leaders still dominate despite the limitations of their devices, while many start-ups have come and gone. A long list of new hopefuls believe they have the solution physicians have desired. Now all they have to do is convince the physicians, who, when it comes to vascular closure devices, are slow to recognize clinical data but quick to embrace a device that feels right to them.