Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Texas Investing in Innovation

The state of Texas is actively funding companies with innovative ideas. The state recently invested $600,000 in Cardiovascular Systems Inc. (CSI) to help the company manufacture their arterial disease treatment system called “Diamondback 360. The funding was made available through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF).

CSI has developed a minimally invasive catheter to treat peripheral artery disease. The device treats calcified and fibrotic plaque throughout the leg in small and large vessels and addresses many of the limitations associated with existing surgical, catheter, and pharmacological treatments. Since its launch in 2007, the device has been used to treat more than 15,000 patients at nearly 600 hospitals across the country.

The legislature created TEF in 2003 and re-appropriated funding in 2005, 2007, and 2009 to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and to create more jobs in the state. To date, the TEF has invested more than $383 million and closed the deal on projects generating an estimated 56,000 new jobs and more than $14 billion in capital investment in the state.

The TEF has also invested more than $1 million in Azaya Therapeutics Inc. of San Antonio to develop their “Azaya Liposome Encapsulated Radiation Therapy” (ALERT) to treat cancerous tumors. ALERT uses liposomes, or tiny bubbles made of cell membrane material to deliver cancer therapy drugs through an injection directly to a tumor.

Current cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation do not focus specifically on cancer cells, and are therefore often detrimental to the overall health of a patient. ALERT solves this problem by focusing drug therapy on a specific cancerous tumor, and thereby improving the outcome and safety of oncology treatments. ALERT will be used as a post surgery treatment for several types of tumors and potentially treat a variety of cancers including prostate, breast, rectal, head, and neck.

In the university sector, the state Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) is investing $5 million to expand and recruit researchers for the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s College of Medicine’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

“Commercialization of adult stem cell research will provide solutions for Texans suffering from various tissue and organ disorders while protecting the unborn from exploitation,” Texas Governor Rick Perry said. “This investment will promote innovation and commercialization in the evolving biotechnology sector and attract top researchers and outside investment to the Institute.

Initial research has shown that regenerative medicine has the ability to improve quality of treatment and to decrease healthcare costs by replacing or repairing the malfunctioning tissues rather than treating them with therapies such dialysis, implanting replacement devices, or transplanting organs.

More than 70 researchers have been recruited from Tulane University to come to Texas through the ETF award. In addition, the ETF award will recruit additional members to the research team to commercialize 20 existing patient applications including five issued patents for regenerative technology. These researchers will have the opportunity to continue to work on identifying new commercialization opportunities.

The ETF is also investing $3 million in the Patton Surgical Corporation to commercialize their PassPort double shielded trocar device for use in laparoscopic surgeries. Trocars are used to insert instruments into the abdominal cavity during a laparoscopic surgery, and the PassPort device makes laparoscopic surgery even less invasive. The device also has several structural designs that allow adaption for use by different surgeons.

Patton Surgical is partnering with the University of Texas, Austin Department of Biomedical Engineering and the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston for further development and commercialization of the device.