News | November 23, 2011

Bluegrass Vascular to Test New Type of Venous Access System

November 23, 2011 – Medical technology incubator Therix Medical announced the launch of spin-off Bluegrass Vascular Technologies, the flagship product of which is the Surfacer Inside-Out Access catheter system, a proprietary instrumentation set that allows physicians to perform a novel “inside-out” approach to gain venous access.

The Surfacer was developed to provide a new option for patients with upper extremity venous occlusion (or blockage in the vein) that makes the vein impenetrable by a guide wire or standard access techniques. This condition develops most frequently in patients treated with central venous catheters, access devices that are used to deliver dialysis or nutrition, to implant pacemakers and to administer intravenous chemotherapy for cancer. Bluegrass Vascular anticipates completion of a first-in-man study using the Surfacer by the end of the year.
“The idea for the Surfacer was born from seeing many patients with obstructed central venous systems who needed life-saving vascular access therapies, whether that be pacemakers or defibrillators or dialysis access,” said John Gurley, M.D., practicing interventional cardiologist at the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, chief medical officer of Bluegrass Vascular Technologies and inventor of the Surfacer. “Our unique system offers physicians an innovative yet simple solution. If the veins are obstructed and you can’t put a needle in from the outside, you can now go inside the body and direct the needle out.”

The potential market size and need for the Surfacer is substantial. Bluegrass Vascular estimates that more than three million patients require central venous access for medical treatment in the United States alone. When an occlusion occurs in the patient’s vein, the vein becomes compromised and unusable for further access, requiring the physician to seek access through another vein. If all four central veins become compromised, high-risk surgical procedures are currently the only option for reestablishing access.

The Surfacer was designed to offer a safer and simpler alternative. Using the system, physicians insert a guide wire through the femoral vein in the groin area and, using fluoroscopy, navigate it up through the torso with an exit point in the jugular vein in the neck or the subclavian vein under the collarbone. The procedure is performed while the patient is under conscious sedation, as with other vascular access procedures.
Bluegrass Vascular Technologies estimates the market opportunity for the Surfacer and related products to be in excess of $1 billion, with the total market opportunity for general venous access approaching $2.5 billion.

“We believe the Surfacer has the potential to bring tremendous clinical and economic benefit to the healthcare community, as it offers a totally novel approach for venous access that is intended to address a significant unmet clinical need among a very sick patient population,” said James Clifton, chief executive officer of Therix Medical and president of Bluegrass Vascular Technologies.
The launch of Bluegrass Vascular Technologies follows Therix Medical’s $2.5 million Series A financing, which closed in August 2011. Select proceeds of the funding round have been dedicated to support the new spin-out company.

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