News | Patient Monitors | June 09, 2015

Smart Vascular Graft Wins Best in Show at Start-up Investors' Event

Graft has embedded flow sensors to detect stenosis

June 9, 2015 - Start-up company GraftWorx was chosen as "Best in Show" at the Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels (MABA) 1st Pitch Life Science event, an investors' conference held in New York in June. Graftworx is a medical device company that has developed a unique peripheral vascular prosthetic bypass graft incorporating a sensor that can alert physicians when blood flow in the graft is blocked due to restenosis. 

Each year, millions of lives are threatened by peripheral artery disease (PAD), where plaque restricts blood flow and can lead to limb loss and organ failure, said David J. Kuraguntla, CEO of GraftWorx. Surgical bypass grafts are effective at restoring blood flow, but peripheral vessels have a very high rate of in-stent restenosis, which can lead to expensive, debilitating outcomes if it goes undetected.

To solve this problem, GraftWorx has designed smart vascular prosthetics with a built in sensor that can detect and accurately measure restenosis formation and progress, along with monitoring other hemodynamic parameters of the patient. Well before the prosthetic has reached failure, it should automatically alert the clinician so that
they can bring in the patient for a simple, safe, outpatient angioplasty. This allows both the clinician and patient to avoid the catastrophic results of undetected prosthetic failure, such as an amputation or prosthetic replacement.
"GraftWorx is grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the 1st Pitch Life Sciences event," Kuraguntla said. "The candid feedback from the investors will help us hone in on the key elements of our business model and the great questions from the audience will help us clarify our story."
"Graftworx stood out in its potential to disrupt the market for treatments in its area, in this case, peripheral arterial disease," said Stephen Goodman, partner at Pryor Cashman, and co-founder of Mid Atlantic Bio Angels, which puts on the 1st Pitch events. "The audience recognized both the persuasiveness of the company's business plan and the mastery of the presenter."
"The company's ground-breaking concept of adding a flow sensor to bypass grafts is simple in concept, but it's technically difficult to put all the necessary pieces in place to actually achieve," added Arthur Klausner, CEO of both Jade Therapeutics and Gem Therapeutics as well as one of the 1st Pitch Life Sciences event judges. "They seem to be well on their way toward meeting this goal."
The Graftworx prosthesis is monitors the characteristic of blood flow through the lumen of the graft. The sensor can be covered with another tubular prosthesis or by a layer of material in order to insulate the sensor from the fluid flow. A pocket may be formed between the tubular prosthesis and the adjacent layer of material or prosthesis and the sensor may be disposed in the pocket.
At a 1st Pitch event, early stage life sciences and healthcare companies make a 15-minute presentation to a panel of experienced life science investors and consultants, followed by a 15-minute audience Q&A. However, where actual investors would then ask the presenting company to leave the room during their subsequent discussion, presenting companies at 1st Pitch are invited to hear the panel constructively critique the company's presentation, business model and perceived viability in the market. 
The Mid Atlantic Bio Angels is a group of active angel investors, which meets in New York City monthly to hear from pre-screened early-stage life science companies. MABA's goal is to create an environment where the depth of investors' knowledge coupled with the pre-screening of presenting companies enhances the potential for meaningful investment.
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