FoxHollow: Reviving Atherectomy
The ideal treatment for coronary artery disease is to remove the obstructing plaque, for which several de-bulking technologies, including atherectomy, were developed. The stent revolution of the mid-1990s provided an easier-to-use therapy with more consistent outcomes, relegating de-bulking tools to niche technologies. Physician/entrepreneur John Simpson, who developed the initial atherectomy technology at Devices for Vascular Intervention, remains committed to the principle that it is better to remove plaque than stent it. He believes the next-generation atherectomy device developed at his new company, Fox Hollow, will be a viable treatment option to compete with stenting, including the new generation of drug-eluting stents. Fox Hollow recognizes the need to fight the atherectomy adoption battle on both the ease-of-use and the clinical outcomes fronts, with the latter being particularly important as interventionalists look increasingly to clinical trials in making their product choices. But drug-eluting stent proponents don't believe it is possible to achieve comparable outcomes.
You may also be interested in...
While the debate continues about whether embolic protection devices are really necessary, the space continues to generate interest from investors, start-ups and large companies looking for new technologies. Despite the unfulfilled promise of the past decade, interest has spread to new interventional applications such as percutaneous heart valves, indicating that this area remains a viable opportunity for start-ups.
Today, carotid artery stenting is an accepted less-invasive alternative to surgical endarterectomy for carefully selected patients, particularly those at significant surgical risk, and market projections are very positive. But, the field still has a long way to go before this procedure is considered routine.
2006's most intriguing Series As reflect VCs' continued emphasis on risk reduction through reprofiling in biotech, and big gains in funding for diagnostics and device start-ups.