A £1.1 million project to develop biodegradable stents for patients with severe vascular disease, which affects around one million people in the UK, has started thanks to Innovate UK funding. The unique project, a collaboration between the UK-based medical device company Arterius and the Translational Biomedical Research Centre (TBRC) at the University of Bristol, will develop a new type of bioresorbable stent that prevents the complications associated with metal stents.
Severe peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is caused by the formation of blockages in arteries, which reduces blood supply to the brain, heart, kidneys and limbs causing strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure and limb amputations. The disease is a growing international healthcare problem affecting about 20 per cent of the UK population aged 55–80 years and 200 million people worldwide.
Current treatment for the condition relies on permanent metal stents being inserted through a needle over a wire into the blocked artery to open up the blockage. However, these metal stents are associated with early blood clots and long-term chronic inflammation at the stented site. This triggers recurrence of blockages within one to two years (also known as in-stent restenosis) leading to readmissions, repeated revascularisation and huge hospital costs.
The two-year project is the culmination of a research-industry consortium comprising Leeds-based medical device company Arterius and University of Bristol researchers led by Professor Raimondo Ascione at the Bristol Medical School.
Together, the team will join strengths and expertise to refine existing Arterius’s technology to develop smart peripheral bioresorbable stents with novel mechanical and biocompatible properties able to treat the blockages and then dissolve between 18 to 24 months. The new device aims to prevent the life-long presence in the treated arteries of a metal stent and the associated chronic inflammation/restenosis and complications.
Professor Raimondo Ascione, Chair of Cardiac Surgery and TBRC Director at Bristol, said: “There is a huge need for innovation based on rigorous preclinical development and testing in the area of severe peripheral vascular disease. We are delighted to join forces with Arterius to form a unique UK-based biomedical consortium with potential to be a global player in this field.”
Dr Kadem Al-Lamee, CEO, Arterius Ltd, added: “Development funding supported by the Innovate UK programme will significantly help us to continue our ongoing collaboration with top UK universities, in order to explore this ground-breaking research in the cardiovascular field. Thanks to this project, Innovate UK, our technology, and the partnership with TBRC-Bristol, we could help millions of patients globally.”
They also agreed: “Our primary goal of this consortium is to develop bioresorbable smart stents for pre-clinical assessment in carotid and iliac-femoral arteries as well as a platform technology, which we plan to use to tackle in the future other areas of peripheral vascular disease such as below the knee, given the high level of biomedical innovation.”
The team plan to develop and test the prototype smart stent for safety and efficiacy using state-of-the art clinical and imaging technologies at Bristol’s TBRC preclinical facility. The ultimate goal is to take this new device to the bedside in a first in man trial in three to four years.
The Biomedical Catalyst is a unique partnership between the Medical Research Council and Innovate UK, providing responsive and effective support to the most innovative life sciences opportunities to accelerate the progress of novel products toward patient benefit.
The aim of the Biomedical Catalyst is to support the development of innovative healthcare products, technologies and processes. These can include (but are not limited to):
- disease prevention and proactive management of health and chronic conditions;
- earlier and better detection and diagnosis of disease, leading to better patient outcomes;
- tailored treatments that either change the underlying disease or offer potential cures;
- SMEs can apply for a share of up to £8 million to continue a project’s early stage development and technical evaluation, up to readiness for clinical testing.
The Biomedical Catalyst was established in 2012 to achieve 3 key objectives:
- deliver growth to the UK life sciences sector;
- deliver innovative life sciences products and services into healthcare more quickly and effectively;
- provide support to academically and commercially led research and development.
The programme provides funding to help UK SMEs speed up bringing new products to market and secure onward investment.