In the race to develop a fully dissolvable cardiac stent, San Diego’s Reva Medical is clearly second. And to CEO Robert Shultz, that’s a good place to be, especially for a startup that had to restart development of its stent technology.
The cost of establishing a big new market, Shultz says, is better left to the drug and medical device giant Abbott Laboratories, which is on pace to launch its dissolvable stent nine months to a year ahead of Reva. “The important thing is to be in the race, not who is one or two,” Shultz told me when I caught up with him by phone to discuss the company’s plans.
Dissolvable, or bioabsorbale, stents are seen as the next big thing in cardiac care. They represent an advance over metal stents — tiny mesh tubes that are used to prop open previously clogged arteries. Some existing stents are coated with drugs to prevent a build up of scar tissue, a complication that can cause the blood vessel to become re-blocked. But drug-coated stents slow the healing process and carry a higher risk of blood clots that also can block the vessel.
Reva and others are betting that dissolvable stents can avoid these complications, and research in the Lancet in March suggests they may be right. As Abbott reported, the 30-patient study found that Abbott’s corn-derived stent was safe after two years. There were no cases of blood clots forming inside the stents and the stents were fully absorbed. “Abbott made a lot of progress and we want that to occur,” Shultz said. “They helped everybody by demonstrating the stents are safe.”
Shultz believes Reva’s stent has several advantages. When the stent is implanted, a series of stent elements slide open and lock into place, a unique design that helps the stent retain its shape inside the vessel. And because the stent contains iodine — unlike the Abbott stent — it is completely visible using X-ray fluoroscopy, a common form of clinical … Next Page »
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