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TherOx: Building a Device Platform on Thin Air

Executive Summary

TherOx was founded upon a simple, compelling notion-that large quantities of oxygen can be saturated into fluids to form aqueous oxygen. But while the benefits of salvaging ischemic tissue by providing oxygen are well known, solving the delivery problem took longer than even TherOx expected, as did subsequent engineering and regulatory approval issues. In the meantime, the company's initial target market became less attractive because of subsequent device developments, notably coronary stents. TherOx is now focused on a new, huge clinical opportunity-acute myocardial infarctions. What has sustained the company through eight years of progress and disappointment is the promise of a true platform technology with applications in a variety of large, diverse markets. The company therefore provides an answer to the question: How does a device start-up take eight years just to get to Phase II clinical trials and still survive?

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