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Posts Tagged ‘Beth Israel Medical Center’


Introducing Dr. Tim Wu – Interventional Cardiologist, Inventor and Entrepreneur

Author: Ed Kislauskis, PhD

Welcome readers to the first in a series of interviews with future scientific leaders in biotechnology and medicine.  In this post I interview a close colleague and clinical scientist who appears to be on a fast-track to achieving his vision for the future of interventional cardiology – at the very vanguard of applied nanotechnology.

Tim (Tiangen) Wu, M.D has graciously accepted my invitation to answer a few questions about how his career path and primary goal to develop and commercialize his first product, a fully-biodegradable drug-eluting stent he calls the PowerStent® Absorb (see insert).  This technology combines three especially innovations:  a unique balloon-expandable stent design (PowerStent®), a bioabsorbable nanoparticle composition (BioDe®), and a formulation of two commercially-available anti-restenosis drugs (Combo®).

Stent

About the Subject

Dr. Wu received his clinical education in China and research training in the USA. In 1988, he graduated with an MD from the prestigious Linyli Medical School and completed a fellowship in clinical cardiology at the Tonji Medical University.  In 1993, presented with an opportunity to travel to the US, he uprooted to accept a position as visiting scholar, and ultimately post-doctoral fellow,in Jeffrey Isner’s lab at St. Elizabeth Hospital (Tufts University) and the Beth Israel Medical Center (Harvard Medical).  There he investigated the biology of stenosis, and directed sponsored research projects to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the latest commercially-developed drug-coated stents (DES) in animals.

After  a decade in academia, Dr. Wu made the successful transition to industry and joined Nitromed Inc. as a Research Scientist.  His next stop was as a Research Director at Biomedical Research Models, Inc (2000-2006) where we met and collaborated on developing and characterizing macrovascular disease in an inbred, type 2 diabetic rat model.  After a 20 year career, and upon gaining additional qualification in Mechanical Engineering (Wentworth Institute), Business Administration (MIT), Clinical Research Affairs (Mass. Biotech Council), and Medical Device Regulatory Affairs (North Eastern Univ.), he was ready to take the entrepreneurial leap.  His first company, VasoTech would aim to re-engineer the clinical standards of stent design and drug delivery.

In 2007, Dr. Wu founded VasoTech, Inc. from inside his home garage. Less than a year later, VasoTech received a $1.5M SBIR fast-track grant award from the NIH.  With funding, VasoTech joined the newly announced M2D2 facility on the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus, and expanded operations in China.  With the support of one of his closest advisors, Dr. Stephen McCarthy and other research faculty, Dr. Wu was appointed as an adjunct faculty in the Dept. of BioMedical Engineering at the UMass/Lowell where he mentored a number of talented graduate students.  Dr. Wu is recognized as a senior reviewer on the NIH Bioengineering, Surgical Science and Technology Study Section, and Biomaterials, Delivery Systems and Nanotechnology Special Emphasis Panels servicing the  Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program.

Dr. Wu’s work at Vasotech is devoted to developing a 3rd generation of fully biodegradable DES coronary stents to solve two major complications associated with stenting, restenosis and late-stage thrombosis. Thusfar, his ideas have attracted well over $1.5 Million (USD) in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant awards from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and $1million (USD) from China Innovative Talent Leadership Program.  Through his efforts VasoTech is well positioned to attract the strategic partnerships and venture capital investments necessary to translate his research through clinical stages of development both in China and the US.

The Interview

Kislauskis:  Please help our readers understand the current clinical approach to CAD.

Wu:  Most patients with advanced atherosclerosis diseases are at risk for occlusive coronary arterial disease and stroke. Consequently, it is recommended they undergo a percutaneous intervention (PCI); essentially, balloon angioplasty followed by instillation of one or more expandable metal stents. A properly expanded stent will dilate the vessel and increase blood flow to cardiac muscle tissue. Current 2nd generation drug-eluting-stents (DES) release drugs to inhibit the process of vascular remodeling leading to restenosis. Because the DES approach is remarkably successful and lowers the rate of restenosis to < 10%, DESs is now performed in 85% of the 2 million percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) procedures annually in the U.S.

Kislauskis:  What is your impression of the recent 5 yr update of the FREEDOM trial comparing effectiveness of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) to PCI among diabetics? 1

Wu:  It makes perfect sense. There are other reports evaluating PCI in patients within high risk categories, including those with small diameter vessels, diabetes, and extensive, systemic vascular disease, showing unacceptably high rates of restenosis with bare metal stents (30%-60%) and DESs (6%-18%) 2-4.  We also know first-hand using an inbred rat strain that develops macrovascular disease 4 months after onset of spontaneous diabetes.  In our experiment model, just 4weeks following balloon-induced injury to the coratid artery (PTCA),  we observed 2x greater restenosis in female obese rats, and 4x greater stenosis in obese, diabetic rats  littermates (syndrome X) relative to the non-obese, non-diabetic littermates.  These results predicted that obesity (dyslipidemia) and diabetes (severe hyperglycemia) were major risk factors promoting the complication of restenosis (Wu and Kislauskis, unpublished).

Kislauskis: Can you tell our readers a bit more about the significance of restenosis and thrombosis and the concept behind your approach.

Wu: Two significant drawbacks to conventional PCI are the need for costly, long-term anti-platelet therapy; and having a metal artifact within the coronary vessel. In fact, once installed, the purpose of DES is to maintain patency and provide a scaffold until remodeling is complete, maybe 6 months.  The period of drug elution is typically shorter in duration.  In the event of restenosis, a second DES procedure is recommended and performed with satisfactory results.  However, leaving another metal artifact is problematic.

Most concerning to PCI patients, however, should be an increased risk of sudden death from heart attack from a clot (thrombosis) and tissue ischemia (myocardial infarction).  No available DES technology (eg. Cypher®or Taxus® DES) demonstrates any advantage over bare metal stents in this regard 5-7.  So the thinking is a metal artifact create an irregular vessel surface and micro-eddys in blood flow which ultimately result in late-stage thrombosis, particularly in patients who go off anti-their platelet therapy too soon 8.  Therefore and conceptually, by combining potent DES technology with a fully-biodegradable scaffold, designed to be absorbed fully into the tissue, likely will reduce the rate in-stent stenosis and prevents late-stage thrombosis.

Kislauskis: How did you come up with your unique polymer formulation?

Wu: It turns out that through a process of trial and error in the lab I was able to identify a biodegradable formulation which reduces the local inflammatory response common to all DES formulations while improving the stent’s radial strength.  With a stable drug delivery platform (BioDe®), the process of remodeling will contribute far less to restenosis.  Furthermore, and unlike all prior art, my BioDe® formulation can neutralize acidic intermediates generated during stent degradation that induce inflammation.  The combination of anti-restenosis drugs (Combo®) also is effective at inhibiting signaling pathways that contribute to restenosis.

Kislauskis:  How did you come to design the PowerStent®?

Wu: Again, a long process of trial and error, initially using computer applied design (CAD) principals I learned while earning attending a mechanical engineering certificate program at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. Elements behind my concept for BioDe® came to me while I was involved in a home renovation project, working with grout.  Although the formulation is simple and may be duplicated, the process of manufacturing is complicated.

Kislauskis: So it’s your trade secret.

Wu: Absolutely.

Kislauskis: Can you summary its other advantages and your plans to commercialize the PowerStent®?

Wu: Preclinical, short duration (30 day) studies in porcine models with the PowerStent® Absorb deployed indicate that it will be non-inferior to the current metal DES and competing biodegradable stent technologies. Important functional attributes of the BioDe® polymer include better biocompatibility (less inflammatory), excellent radial strength, potent anti-restenosis activity, and a unique microporous surface that promotes integration into neointimal layer of stented vessel.  Ongoing and much longer duration studies may also support our contention that this design can reduce risks of late-stage in-stent thrombosis.

Kislauskis: What path and difficulties to you foresee in obtaining a regulatory approval to conduct clinical trials with the PowerStent® Absorb?

Wu:  FDA Guidance to commercialize conventional DES technology is available. Unfortunately, no guidance is published for a fully-biodegradable stent.  Therefore, I anticipate seeking advice from the regulatory bodies prior to petitioning for approval to perform clinical trials.  It will no doubt be a complicated process as this technology involves a novel drug combination (albeit FDA-approved drugs), and a novel formulation (albeit FDA-approved components), and a novel indwelling and bioabsorbable medical device (stent).  We are presently completing several required engineering studies for the final phase of pre-clinical safety and efficacy testing, in China. The goals are to obtain FDA pre-market and NDA approvals, and to receive a CE mark from major international markets including Europe and the BRICK nations.

Kislauskis: How will you commercialize this 3rd generation, fully-biodegradable stent?

Wu: There are likely 3 scenarios to complete development and commercialization.  One involves securing bridge funding from the NIH SBIR program, supplemented with angel financing to complete preclinical program. I project that a minimum of $6 Million (USD) will be required to complete regulatory approval and pivotal clinical trials.  Therefore, it is conceivable that a Series A round of equity financing from venture capitalists, in either US or China, will be required. A third scenario is to partner or sell the technology to a major player in this space to complete clinical testing and commercialization. Potential partners include Boston Scientific Company, J&J, etc. Any of these partners could facilitate the processes of regulatory approval, manufacturing, global distribution and marketing.  Discussions are underway with one such prospective partner and with several VC groups.

Kislauskis: What is its likely impact of this product on patient care and the field of interventional cardiology?

Wu: According to US statistics, approximately 14 million Americans suffer from CAD, and 500,000 people die from acute myocardial infarction. One million more survive but with a 1.5 to 15 times greater risk of mortality or morbidity than the rest of the population each year.  In the U.S., the annual health care costs of CAD are estimated to be in excess of $112 billion, and the estimated annual total direct cost associated with PCI with stents is over $2 billion.  I anticipate that our PowerStent® Absorb stent will be competitive in a marketplace estimated to be over $5 billion in 2010. Although CAD patients are the primary market, other related applications for our PowerStent Absorb technology include peripheral arteries, intracerebral vascular and small vessels which are also significant.

Kislauskis:  Thank you for your contribution to this site.  For more information about MMG, LLC and Dr. Wu’s technology please refer to his publications 9-13 or contact him directly at tiangenwu@yahoo.com.

REFERENCES

1.   Mark A. Hlatky, M.D. Compelling Evidence for Coronary-Bypass Surgery in Patients with Diabetes.   N Engl J Med 2012; 367:2437-2438.

2.  Stamler, J. (1989) Epidemiology.  Established major risk factors, and the primary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Chatterjee K, Karliner J, Rapaport E, Cheitlin MD, Parmlee WW, Sheinman, M eds. Cardiology, Philadelphia Penn: JB Lippincott, 1991, 7.2-7.35. (volume 2).

3. Tanabe, K, Regar, E et al.  Sirolimus-eluting stent for treatment of in-stentrestenosis: One-year angiographic and intravascular ultrasound follow-up. J. Am Col.Cardi.   (2003) 41: 12A.

4. Grube, Eberhard;  Silber, Sigmund.  Six- and twelve-month results from a randomized, double-blind trial on a slow-release paclitaxel-eluting stent for de novo coronary lesions. Circulation 2003: 107, 38-42.

5.  Iakovou I, Schmidt T, Bonizzoni E, et al. Incidence, predictors, and outcome of thrombosis after successful implantation of drug-eluting stents. JAMA 2005;293:2126–2130.

6.  Ong AT, McFadden EP, Regar E, et al. Late angiographic stent thrombosis (LAST) events with drug-eluting stents. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005;45:2088–2092.

7. Wang F, Stouffer GA, Waxman S, et al. Late coronary stent thrombosis: Early vs late stent thrombosis in the stent era. Catheter Cardiovasc Interven 2002;55:142–147.

8. McFadden EP, Stabile E, Regar E, et al. Late thrombosis in drug-eluting coronary stents after discontinuation of antiplatelet therapy. Lancet 2004;364:1519–1521.

9. Ma X, Oyamada S, Wu T, Robich MP, Wu H, Wang X, Buchholz B, McCarthy S, Bianchi CF, Sellke FW, Laham R. In vitro and in vivo degradation of poly(D, L-lactide-co-glycolide)/amorphous calcium phosphate copolymer coated on metal stents. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2011 Mar 15;96(4):632-8. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.33016. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

10. Oyamada S, Ma X, Wu T, Robich MP, Wu H, Wang X, Buchholz B, McCarthy S, Bianchi CF, Sellke FW, Laham R. Trans-iliac rat aorta stenting: a novel high throughput preclinical stent model for restenosis and thrombosis. J Surg Res. 2011 Mar;166(1):e91-5. Erratum in: J Surg Res. 2012 May 1;174(1):184.

11. Ma X, Oyamada S, Gao F, Wu T, Robich MP, Wu H, Wang X, Buchholz B, McCarthy S, Gu Z, Bianchi CF, Sellke FW, Laham R Paclitaxel/sirolimus combination coated drug-eluting stent: in vitro and in vivo drug release studies. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011 Mar 25;54(4):807-11. Erratum in: J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2012 Feb 5;59:217.

12. Ma X, Wu T, Robich MP, Wang X, Wu H, Buchholz B, McCarthy S. Drug-eluting stents. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2010 Jul 15;3(3):192-201.

Other articles related to this subject were published in this Open Access OnlIne Scientific Journal:

Lev-Ari, A. (2012aa). Renal Sympathetic Denervation: Updates on the State of Medicine

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/12/31/renal-sympathetic-denervation-updates-on-the-state-of-medicine/

 

Lev-Ari, A. (2012U). Imbalance of Autonomic Tone: The Promise of Intravascular Stimulation of Autonomics

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/09/02/imbalance-of-autonomic-tone-the-promise-of-intravascular-stimulation-of-autonomics/

Lev-Ari, A. (2012R). Coronary Artery Disease – Medical Devices Solutions: From First-In-Man Stent Implantation, via Medical Ethical Dilemmas to Drug Eluting Stents https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/13/coronary-artery-disease-medical-devices-solutions-from-first-in-man-stent-implantation-via-medical-ethical-dilemmas-to-drug-eluting-stents/

 

Lev-Ari, A. (2012K). Percutaneous Endocardial Ablation of Scar-Related Ventricular Tachycardia

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/07/18/percutaneous-endocardial-ablation-of-scar-related-ventricular-tachycardia/

 

Lev-Ari, A. (2012C). Treatment of Refractory Hypertension via Percutaneous Renal Denervation

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/06/13/treatment-of-refractory-hypertension-via-percutaneous-renal-denervation/

Lev-Ari, A. (2012D). Competition in the Ecosystem of Medical Devices in Cardiac and Vascular Repair: Heart Valves, Stents, Catheterization Tools and Kits for Open Heart and Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/06/22/competition-in-the-ecosystem-of-medical-devices-in-cardiac-and-vascular-repair-heart-valves-stents-catheterization-tools-and-kits-for-open-heart-and-minimally-invasive-surgery-mis/

Lev-Ari, A. (2012E). Executive Compensation and Comparator Group Definition in the Cardiac and Vascular Medical Devices Sector: A Bright Future for Edwards Lifesciences Corporation in the Transcatheter Heart Valve Replacement Market

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/06/19/executive-compensation-and-comparator-group-definition-in-the-cardiac-and-vascular-medical-devices-sector-a-bright-future-for-edwards-lifesciences-corporation-in-the-transcatheter-heart-valve-replace/

 

Lev-Ari, A. (2012F). Global Supplier Strategy for Market Penetration & Partnership Options (Niche Suppliers vs. National Leaders) in the Massachusetts Cardiology & Vascular Surgery Tools and Devices Market for Cardiac Operating Rooms and Angioplasty Suites

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/06/22/global-supplier-strategy-for-market-penetration-partnership-options-niche-suppliers-vs-national-leaders-in-the-massachusetts-cardiology-vascular-surgery-tools-and-devices-market-for-car/

 

Lev-Ari, A. (2012G).  Heart Remodeling by Design: Implantable Synchronized Cardiac Assist Device: Abiomed’s Symphony

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/07/23/heart-remodeling-by-design-implantable-synchronized-cardiac-assist-device-abiomeds-symphony/

 

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