Minnow Medical Aims to Commercialize Improved Device for Treating Peripheral Artery Disease

9/9/09Follow @bvbigelow

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treat 78 patients outside the United States who faced possible amputation because arteries in their knees were so badly constricted.

Eric Dippel, a cardiologist and biomedical consultant in Davenport, IA, who has reviewed Minnow’s technology but is not involved with the company, says he’s excited by the concept, and he notes that medical technology for treating peripheral artery disease is about 10 years behind advances in coronary disease. “It’s been a neglected area,” says Dippel. He also notes, “In general, the U.S. market is probably three years or more behind the European market” in developing new technology for peripheral artery disease. So while there are a lot of randomized trials and clinical data that support the use of stents in heart patients, Dippel says Minnow’s approach seems better-suited for fixing arteries in the knee. “Arteries in the legs are subjected to a lot of forces, such as bending and twisting, that arteries in the heart are not subjected to,” Dippel says.

The Davenport cardiologist calls Minnow’s technology “potentially exciting.” But Eric J. Topol, a cardiologist who is the chief academic officer and chief of genomic medicine and translational science for Scripps Health in San Diego, says he’s doubtful about Minnow’s technology.

“It’s possible, but it’s quite speculative,” Topol tells me. “Outside of drug-coated stents, there’s really nothing that addresses this problem of re-narrowing of the arteries” following angioplasty. “I’d love for the technology to succeed,” Topol adds. “But this technology, there hasn’t been a lot done in this area to indicate that it will work.”

Steinke says he intends to prove to the satisfaction of federal regulators that Minnow’s technology works. That takes money, so Steinke also has embarked on an effort to raise additional investment capital in the San Diego startup, which now has 28 employees. Minnow has raised $22 million so far, primarily from Fjord Ventures, a firm that former Domain Associates partner Olav Bergheim founded in Laguna Hills, CA, and NeoMed Management, an international life sciences VC firm with offices in Boston, Oslo, Norway, and Geneva, Switzerland.

As Steinke puts it, Minnow also is in “commercialization mode.” After winning a CE mark of European certification for Minnow’s first-generation clinical system, Steinke says the company has been working to meet different health insurance reimbursement standards in various European countries. Minnow also has been laying the groundwork to eventually seek regulatory approval in the United States, and Steinke says he has been seeking additional capital from prospective investors, including potential corporate partners.

In other words, stand by for more developments.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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