HCDC client Inovasc recently received a $300,000 Small Business Investigative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Insitutes of Health (NIH) to further development on the company’s kidney dialysis technology.
Patients with kidney failure need hemodialysis to survive. The hemodialysis machine, however, needs to have a system to remove large volumes of blood from the patient, purify it in a dialysis machine, and then return it to the patient. This is usually done through a connection between the artery and vein called an arteriovenous fistula (AVF). The AVF is therefore the “lifeline” for the 400,000 plus hemodialysis patients in the US. Unfortunately over 50% of AVFs have a problem with narrowing (stenosis) and clotting within the first 6 months of creation making them unsuitable for dialysis. Thus the AVF is also the “Achilles Heel” of hemodialysis, causing immense morbidity within this vulnerable population, at significant economic cost, according to Dr. Prabir Roy-Chaudhury, a practicing nephrologist who is also the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Inovasc.
In order to reduce the huge morbidity, mortality, and economic cost associated with AVF dysfunction, a group of kidney specialists, engineers, and biologists at the University of Cincinnati got together to combine their expertise and interests to try and solve this problem. The result: the invention of a new biodegradable stent called “Flo-Fluent” that protects this “lifeline” for hemodialysis patients as well as a brand new start up company called Inovasc.
Speaking about Inovasc, Dr Begoña Campos, who is the CEO of the company and an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, said “Inovasc became a reality only because of an extremely collaborative and forward-looking environment within the University of Cincinnati that brought different types of scientists and clinicians together to create a product that would one day help patients.” These different types of scientists are an example of the real diversity in the Cincinnati startup ecosystem. Inovasc’s staff includes a female CEO from Mexico, a lead researcher from India, Engineering professors from China, Canada, and Russia, a veteranary surgeon from Spain, and a regulatory contact that is a female naturalized citizen from Cuba.
Inovasc is a platform that has brought together clinicians, biologists, engineers and entrepreneurs to focus on engineering aspects of both the product and company, resulting in International Patent Application,“Method for Making Magnesium Biodegradable Stent for Medical Implant Applications.” Dr Vesselin Shanov, a Professor of Engineering and Co-Director of the NanoWorld Laboratories at the University of Cincinnati, emphasized that the success of Inovasc came due to great collaboration.
More than anything else, however, according to Roy-Chaudhury and Dan Kincaid, the Chief Financial Officer of Inovasc (the entrepreneurial force within the group), Inovasc has brought together clinicians, biologists, engineers and entrepreneurs; we are open for business and look forward to an amazing pipeline of products in this area of unmet clinical need.”