Start-Up Previews (01/2010)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "Biotechs Target the GI Tract," features profiles of Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Genetic Analysis, Meritage Pharma and Ventrus Biosciences. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics, Concert Pharmaceuticals, ImThera Medical, On-Q-ity and Telormedix.
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Although more than 20 million people in the US are affected by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the standard of care for the disorder--a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine applied at bedtime with a nasal or facial mask to keep airways propped open--carries a noncompliance rate of almost 50%. ImThera Medical Inc. is developing a new implantable neurostimulation device that stimulates certain tongue muscles during sleep to open the upper airway and potentially help patients who are unable or unwilling to use CPAP or pursue surgical alternatives.
For more than 20 years, cardiac ablation catheter development has focused on two major areas: three-dimensional mapping systems to determine a specific patient's heart dimensions to help map arrhythmias and guide catheters, and mechanisms for catheter positioning and steerability. Little attention has been devoted to ablation lesion success and safety assessment. Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics Inc. aims to fill this gap with its intelligent, in-tissue, temperature-sensing irrigated ablation catheter. The device features a chip-based radiometry system to provide physicians with real-time in-tissue temperature when performing irrigated cardiac ablations.
A number of diseases are associated with or influenced by imbalances in gut bacteria, including autism and GI disorders such as ulcers, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer, and necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Many other conditions not obviously associated with the gastrointestinal tract also seem to be influenced by imbalance in the gut, such as allergies, eczema, depression and obesity. Genetic Analysis is developing the G-MAP, a microbiota array technology that analyzes and profiles the gut microflora and associates the resulting profile with various diseases.