Startup Company Targets Paradigm Shift in Heart Valve Surgery


June 16, 2014
The conventional tissue trileaflet heart valve (left) depicts much higher stresses compared to the new PolyNova valve (right).

June 16, 2014 — PolyNova, a startup company that has grown out of an inter-institutional collaboration between the University of Arizona (UA) and Stony Brook University, announced it is developing a novel polymeric prosthetic heart valve. Sarver Heart Center cardiologist Marvin J. Slepian, M.D., professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the UA, is the founding CEO of the new venture. PolyNova entered an exclusive option to the patent rights jointly held by the two universities earlier this spring.

PolyNova plans to use synthetic biomaterials to create new valve replacement technologies for a new transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. The new materials and operation would allow surgeons to replace a diseased heart valve with a synthetic one via a catheter run inside the aorta, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery. 

PolyNova has received $100,000 in seed funding to transition the technology from the lab to the marketplace. Half of the funds were provided by the Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund; the other by the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund.

“This award will help further advance this technology down the regulatory pathway, as well as develop business and marketing strategies to leverage additional funding,” said Slepian. “Development of a safe, effective and durable percutaneous heart valve made of novel, clot-resistant polymeric materials will expand the availability of this therapy to patients both in developed countries as well as in underserved areas worldwide.” 

Currently, TAVR technology uses a valve made with bovine tissue and carries a risk of blood clots.

According to David Allen, vice president of Tech Launch Arizona: “All of the elements of the venture – from the partnership it was founded upon to its goals of making these therapies more accessible – speak to the University of Arizona’s Never Settle strategic plan, which, under the leadership of President Ann Weaver Hart, prioritizes innovating new solutions that impact society and partnering with people and organizations to bring such novel inventions and ideas to the world through commercial pathways.” 

PolyNova, located in Stony Brook, N.Y., was co-founded by Slepian and collaborators Danny Bluestein and Thomas E. Claiborne of Stony Brook University. 

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