From Innovation to Commercialization
UTSA alumna wins $50,000 for new stent-graft start-up company
In the world of biomedical engineering, the application of sound scientific research to real-world problems is a key to developing new treatments for patients. For potential recipients of an aortic aneurysm stent-graft, recent developments at UTSA provide hope for healthier and safer surgeries that can save lives. The innovative work of Dr. Jordan Kaufmann (UTSA ’12), and advisors Dr. Mauli Agrawal and Dr. Steven Bailey (UTHSCSA) may be the next biggest stent-related innovation to be generated in San Antonio since the invention of the Palmaz Stent itself.
For potential recipients of an aortic aneurysm stentgraft, recent developments at UTSA provide hope for healthier and safer surgeries that can save lives.
Every year in the U.S., more than 1.2 million people have some form of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), currently the 13th leading cause of death in the country. Annually 65,000 of these people receive repairs, 40 percent of which are open surgical and 60 percent of which are endovascularly treated. The problem with these repairs is that they can exhibit leakage around the stent within a month, and 20 to 30 percent of them require additional surgery or intervention within six to eight years. Current stent-grafts treating AAA form the basis for a market with over $1 billion in sales worldwide, and double-digit growth is forecast to continue.
Dr. Kaufmann’s work focused on replacing the current synthetic stent-graft material with a tissue engineered scaffold for aneurysm repair (TESAR). This patent-pending technology promotes a tissue barrier to the aneurysm, helping to reduce the problems seen in existing stent-grafts. Furthermore, the graft fully integrates at the site of the aneurysm and bioresorbs into the body. The results have been shown in animal studies, and the potential to improve the surgical success rate is getting noticed in the industry.
With such a high potential, Kaufmann entered and won the first-ever University of Texas Horizon Fund Student Investment Competition, which includes $50,000 in seed funding. She will be using the money to launch her new company, Cardiovate, with Agrawal and Bailey. Between now and March 2013, they will work together to refine the manufacturing of the TESAR, and they will test it to ensure that it conforms to the highest safety and quality standards.
When looking at technology commercialization, this kind of high-impact research falls into a sweet spot of congruent conditions, including an identifiable market need, technological innovation stemming from university research and a market potential that is large enough to warrant investment in further product development.
As Cardiovate moves forward, UTSA has established the means to help nurture the company, including patenting and licensing procedures that help protect the intellectual property for the company, an incubator on campus to enable the company to be near its founders, and the ability for the company to contract with the University for sponsored research and the use of core facilities that would be prohibitively expensive for a young start-up to capitalize on its own at this stage. As a result, the likelihood of technological success is higher and results in greater returns to the University and the broader San Antonio and state economy.
The New Venture Incubator (NVI) (http:// research.utsa.edu/commercialization/nvi. php) on the UTSA 1604 West campus also houses other partner companies at UTSA, including Rochal Industries (http://www. rochalindustries.com/), a local technology development company focused on wound care. They are currently engaged in joint–sponsored research with UTSA’s Dr. Rena Bizios, and like many incubated companies, they have the potential to partner with our researchers, hire our students and accelerate technology commercialization at UTSA.