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Persistently Seeking Stroke Solutions

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Even as ischemic stroke researchers debate what went wrong following a string of high-profile, expensive clinical trial failures, they're optimistic that advances in understanding of the disease and application of lessons learned from past mistakes will yield more effective therapies.

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CoAxia's New Path in Stroke

If the 1990s was the decade of the heart, this was supposed to be the decade of the brain. But the tremendous market for stroke device companies has never quite materialized in part because stroke treatment is so elusive. That elusive nature of therapy has led also to unclear technology solutions, complex regulatory paths, and challenging adoption models. CoAxia is staking its claim with a development and clinical trials strategy that departs from those of other stroke start-ups, aiming to prove clinical efficacy in its complex trials.

Window of Opportunity Opens in Stroke

The field of stroke moves slowly; 17 years elapsed between the introduction of the thrombolytic drug tPA, the first FDA-approved intervention for acute ischemic stroke, and the clot retrieving device from Concentric Medical. The goal of these rdr rmost therapies is to quickly and safely achieve revascularization of the source of the blockage that caused the stroke. The problem has been, and continues to be, the very narrow therapeutic window of opportunity for stroke victims; that is the short time during which recovery is possible. Concentric Medical and Penumbra have both succeeded in widening the treatment window, from the three hour cut-off for tPA to eight hours. Others will follow. According to US Markets for Stroke Management Products, a report just issued by the FDC-Windhover division of Elsevier, this market will rapidly over the next few years because clinicians trained on first-generation devices are now prepared for improved neurointerventional technologies. The report estimates that cerebral revascularization and reperfusion device sales will grow at a compound annual rate of 33.4% through the year 2012.

Small Steps Forward in Treating Ischemic Stroke

Stroke remains a devastating disease that isn't adequately addressed, but the pharmaceutical industry remains wary of the field, having been stung in the past by extremely expensive clinical disappointments. Nevertheless, the opportunity is too enticing for the industry to ignore completely. Two pharma-sponsored major clinical trials are underway for treatment of acute ischemic stroke, foro example. The emerging companies with stroke therapies profiled here, however, are cautiously pushing forward on several fronts, of which the stroke market may or not be the first and foremost application of core technology.

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