Coronary bypasses are the most challenging bypasses given their small diameter (3-5 mm) in combination with high blood pressure. The preferred material to be used for coronary bypass surgery are autologous arteries and especially the left internal mammary artery (LIMA) because of its high long-term patency rate. However, in 80% of the cases at least one graft is harvested from the great saphenous vein (GSV), when arterial grafts are not available or provide insufficient length. The use of the GSV for coronary bypasses has the issue that its patency rate declines fast because of tissue degeneration which frequently leads to acute graft occlusion. Similar issues exist when GSV grafts are used in peripheral bypass surgery.
In Europe and the US alone, ca. 1.6 million coronary and peripheral bypass operations are conducted every year. The associated market value for vascular grafts is approximately 1.2 billion euro. Given the lack of sufficient suitable autologous artery material and the long-term patency challenge with using the venous saphenous, there is a clear need for a high performing artificial alternative. With its innovative artificial vascular graft, ArtiFex aims to provide this alternative and address the large and profitable bypass graft market.
The ArtiFex vascular graft aims to provide a much better alternative to the venous saphenous and synthetic artificial grafts that are currently in use. It is a multi-layered vascular prosthesis consisting of an outer scaffold mesh made of cobalt-chrome with several layers of cellulose on the inside. The patented cellulose layering is fully permeable for selected cells yet blood tight. Preliminary preclinical tests have shown that the graft becomes like a living artery within 4 weeks as cells and small neo-vessels start to turn the scaffold into living tissue. The cellulose layer is antithrombogenic and does not cause any immune reaction. It targets a high patency rate similar to an artery and better than vein grafts. The graft shows comparable elasticity and burst strength to arteries of a similar diameter. Can be produced well in advance and can be stored at room temperature, ready off the shelf use (no seeding or cell expansion needed).
Extensive patent portfolio with granted patents in numerous regions (including EP, US and China) some additional patents pending. Small scale manufacturing established. Two one month in-vivo studies showed very promising results. A large scale and long-term animal study will start toward the end of 2020.
Meet the team
Associate Professor DDr Bernhard Winkler
Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgeon Associate Professor in cardiac surgery
Prof. Friedrich Eckstein
Cardiac Surgeon Professor in cardiac surgery University Hospital Basel
Prof. Bruno Podesser
Professor in cardiac surgery. Head of Center for Biomadical Research Medical University Vienna
Venture Partner at NLC
Entrepreneur with more than 30 years experience in building global businesses, developing and executing growth strategies mainly in healthcare including mergers and acquisitions. Built businesses within corporates (Fujitsu, Philips Speech Processing, Nuance Communications) as well as through co-founding or investing in start-ups such as Superevent, Telecats Austria, ESR iGuide, contextflow and NLC.