This article was originally published in Start Up
EndoBionics Inc.'s wire-guided microneedle catheter can traverse the vascular system to inject drugs into deep tissues and major organs, areas that have heretofore been hard to reach in a minimally invasive manner. The company's long-term goal is regenerative medicine, but EndoBionics will seek nearer-term revenues from a first application in coronary restenosis, positioning its MicroSyringe as an alternative to drug-eluting stents.
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Convergence is the great hope of pharmaceutical and device companies hoping to enter into new high growth markets with differentiated products. Drug-eluting stents turned a stagnant product into a thriving $6 billion market, and now companies are trying to find the next large opportunity that combines devices and drugs. They're looking at many kinds of implantable devices that incorporate biomaterials and drugs to achieve site specific drug delivery, in cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, ophthalmology, orthopedics, wound healing, and anti-infection.
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.
In Vivo's editors pick January's most significant deals, including Roche's acquisition of Flatiron and Moderna's latest big private fundraising. (Free article.)