Start-Up Previews (03/2010)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, Transdermal Drug Delivery: More Than Skin Deep, features profiles of AllTranz, Ocelus, Quinnova and Syntropharma. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Apnex Medical, Cellular Dynamics, Helix Therapeutics, Presym and Vatrix Medical.
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Although roughly 80% of all heart disease is attributable to mechanical defects, the medical community relies on ultrasound imaging and other electrical/impedance methods to diagnose heart diseases. While these techniques are valuable for detecting arrhythmias and other electrical disturbances, they are unable to identify biomechanical issues that may develop into serious problems. Presym Inc. is working on a new noninvasive device that uses the trachea as a point of measurement to record all mechanical features of the heart and thus detect diseases before symptoms occur.
Early detection of abdominal aortic aneurysms - which are associated with degradation of the artery and result in weakening and expansion of the blood vessel that can lead to an often-fatal rupture - appears promising with a simple urine test being developed by Vatrix Medical Inc. The start-up is also introducing a minimally invasive endovascular procedure to slow AAA growth by treating the aneurysmal tissue with a novel class of stabilizing agents that bind directly to the diseased artery.
Apnex Medical is developing a tiny device that it thinks could become an enormous game changer in the bid to better treat obstructive sleep apnea. The technology is similar to a pacemaker in both size and concept. But instead of the heart, the device stimulates the musculature of the upper airway at the base of the tongue - the genioglossus - via the hypoglossal nerve. In obstructive sleep apnea, the muscle doesn't always activate sufficiently, which can lead to a collapsed airway.