A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "New Approaches to Neuropathic Pain," features profiles of Aestus Therapeutics, Arcion Therapeutics and Spinifex Pharmaceuticals. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Centrose, Semprus BioSciences and Voyage Medical.
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One of the challenges with catheter ablation for cardiac arrhythmias is that while electrophysiologists are delivering energy through a catheter to the heart, they have very limited feedback as to what is occurring at the point of therapy. They rely on fluoroscopy or ultrasound to monitor catheter positioning, but those technologies do not provide adequate resolution. Clinicians may soon be able to visualize the target sites of the heart, transforming electrophysiology and potentially all endocardial treatments. The IRIS catheter from Voyage Medical is both a visualization and therapeutic platform to treat arrhythmias. The fiber-optic visualization system is integrated into the catheter and it provides real-time feedback on what is happening during the ablation procedure.
While implantable and interventional medical devices have greatly improved patient care, the materials of which these devices are made can cause unwelcome complications such as infections, blood clots and restenosis. Device coatings help to alleviate these problems, but current coating technologies are less than ideal. Semprus BioSciences aims to permanently prevent device-related complications by altering their surface architectures. The company's core technology is based on the permanent application of stable polymers and biological agents to the surfaces of medical devices to achieve desired properties. These highly biocompatible materials will mask the foreign surfaces of devices, which serve as an ideal breeding ground for bacteria or blood clots.
Australia's Spinifex Pharmaceuticals has identified a compound that it believes represents an entirely new mechanism of action for neuropathic pain. Its lead agent is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) antagonist, in Phase I trials for post-herpetic neuralgia. Although the GPCR class is one of the most popular drug targets across the industry, Spinifex claims that the GPCR it's focused on is not commonly associated with pain research.