Cook Group Goes to School in Cell Therapy
This article was originally published in Start Up
While a host of cardiovascular device companies are collaborating with gene and cell therapy firms in heart disease, Cook is taking a different approach to get in-house cell therapy expertise. It's created spin-off Cook Myosite, to develop the first cell therapy for urinary incontinence. Cook's urological division will sell the final product.
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In heart failure, companies with expertise in gene or cell biology, or percutaneous delivery devices, see the first application where regenerative medicine could finally realize its promise. The enormous patient population, the high mortality of the disease, and the economics of treating it today provide a multi-billion dollar opportunity for which it's worth braving the complexity of cell therapy for tissue repair. Indeed, first-generation autologous heart cell therapies involve many different types of expertise resident in companies with different mindsets. Unknowns dog every component of the therapies on the level of basic biology. Still to be worked out: the right cell types; the optimal delivery route and device; when and at what dose cells should be administered, and in combination with which genes or drugs. Nevertheless, the great need in heart failure keeps companies dedicated to cardiac regeneration therapies. And as the cell therapy developers reveal new discoveries about the innate regenerative powers of the heart, drug developers are starting to move in, promising a much simpler approach than the combination products presently in the works.
Orthopedic biomaterials and drug-eluting stents are only the first hint at the potentially transforming nature of combination products: device/biologic combination products that may bring a revolution to clinical therapy and to the device industry. In vascular medicine, catheter-based delivery of cardiac gene therapy may become a significant advance, yet with scant clinical evidence of efficacy and only anecdotal physician experience using catheter delivery systems, the field remains all promise. Many device executives think they see a path emerging, largely due to fundamental changes in the dynamics of their industry that are moving device business models closer to that of their pharma industry cousins.
Edwards Lifesciences entered into a biomaterials deal with Cook Biotech in an effort to develop a living heart valve using biomaterials.