by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | April 22, 2010
The product, called Vascugel, helps heal veins and arteries wounded during hemodialysis, where patients with failing kidneys have their blood extracted and filtered.
In the process of hemodialysis, the grafts created by doctors to gain access to blood vessels get damaged. Over half of all arteriovenous grafts - grafts that loop across arteries and veins, and give doctors access to the vasculature - need repairs after one year, says Ahmed.
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Vascugel, which uses injections of cells to help the vascular system recover from injuries, has already passed phase 1 and 2 clinical proof-of-concept trials. The company is gearing up for a phase 3 trial.
And a little farther down the FDA-approval road are regen therapies to replace injured cardiac tissue in patients with congestive heart failure, known as autologous point-of-care cell therapy, Ahmed says.
In these treatments, stem cells are first removed from bone marrow or blood or even a patient's frozen umbilical cord, then purified and injected into the heart.
THE "HOOK" FOR MEDICAL DEVICE COMPANIES
While regenerative medicine therapies offer plenty of opportunities for biotech companies, they're also places for medical device businesses to shine, too.
Ahmed says they just need a "hook," and for medical device companies, it's experience in creating the equipment that will allow doctors to deliver novel regen therapies to the site of action, such as catheters or other delivery devices.
"A Medtronic or Bard, their expertise is around creating world-class catheters. The same competencies could be used to deliver cells to the right place of cardiac tissues," observes Ahmed.
"Medical device companies who supply surgical equipment also see it as adjacent, because they may need some sort of surgical equipment to deliver some of these cells to the right part of the body," he says. "From a technology perspective, that could be a hook."
One part of the world that could expect huge growth in regen is China, where researchers are the fifth most prolific contributors to regenerative medicine research, only behind the U.S., Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom, according to a study published earlier this year by the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health in Canada. Chinese publications in the field have jumped up within the last ten years, leaping from under 50 in 2000 to well over 1,000 in 2008, according to a McLaughlin-Rotman report. The country also produces almost half a million science and medicine graduates every year, and spends close to $44 billion on research.