December 6, 2010
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The long-term performance of medical implant devices, like heart valves and cardiac stents, could be enhanced substantially by new bio-coating technology recently licensed to University of Alabama at Birmingham spin-out company Endomimetics LLC through the UAB Research Foundation.
The patent-pending technology is a novel bio-nanomatrix coating, or a bio-engineered material on the nano scale, that mimics natural endothelium, the substance that lines blood vessels. This biocompatibility - the ability to promote the body's acceptance of a implant device - can help prevent post-operative tissue scarring that sometimes leads to thrombosis, or blood-flow blockage, among the reported 10 million people who receive implants annually.
"By mimicking natural endothelium, the nanomatrix coating essentially transforms injured blood vessels to a healthy condition at implant sites, and it has great potential for many applications," says Ho-Wook Jun, Ph.D., co-inventor of the technology and UAB assistant professor of biomedical engineering.
"Implanted devices, such as stents, prosthetic heart valves, vascular grafts and indwelling catheters have revolutionized patient care," says co-inventor Brigitta Brott, M.D., a UAB associate professor of medicine. "By improving the body's acceptance of these devices to reduce blood-clot formation and scar-tissue growth, we will greatly improve the quality of life for patients and also potentially drive down health-care costs by reducing the need for follow-up procedures."
Brott says U.S. heath-care costs connected to repeat procedures necessitated by clots and blood-flow blockage is estimated at more than $65 million each year.
The bio-nanomatrix, developed with other interdisciplinary researchers from the UAB schools of Medicine and Engineering, has been licensed by the UAB Research Foundation to Endomimetics LLC, the UAB spin-out founded by Jun and Brott. The UAB bio-nanomatrix is the only such coating of its kind, though some similar products are in the development pipeline.
"The UAB Research Foundation is excited to once again have played a key role in the development of a new company with a new and exciting technology that should fill a key need in a multi-billion dollar industry in a way no other product currently available in the marketplace has been able to do," says David Winwood, Ph.D., CEO of the UAB Research Foundation.
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center and the state of Alabama's largest employer. For more information, please visit www.uab.edu.