Article preview from Start-Up - May, 2013Large numbers of patients with chronic wounds haven’t responded to existing treatments, and their open wounds can have dire consequences. The suffering of patients, the failures of past remedy attempts, and new financial pressures on hospitals have medtech entrepreneurs and venture investors focused on finding better solutions to wound care.
Start-Ups, Strategics Help Mend Wound Repair
Article preview from Start-Up - May, 2013
Go to an advanced wound care conference in 2013 and you’re tempted to say, “Same old, same old.” Companies present their dressings impregnated with new antimicrobial agents, and there is the usual large assortment of companies offering new biomaterials that all sound the same. Meanwhile, the scientific posters present striking “before and after photos” featuring grisly wounds and shiny, new pink skin created by wound care products right next to clinical studies performed on small numbers of patients.
In some respects, things are in fact the same as they ever were in advanced wound care. There are still large numbers of patients with chronic wounds that haven’t responded to existing treatments, and their open wounds can have dire consequences. In the US, Europe, and Japan, there are 6.1 million cases of diabetic foot ulcers and 800,000 of them are hard to heal. Of those, 15% will lead to amputation. (See Exhibit 1.)
The gruesome nature of the photos of wounds coupled with the dire circumstances of the patients leaves one hoping these companies make real progress in advanced wound care. These wounds – cuts, burns, or other injuries – simply don’t heal on their own because some part of the wound repair mechanism is damaged. The wound bed may not be getting enough blood flow for example, or might be filled with agents that are succeeding in breaking tissue down faster than it can be rebuilt. Chronic wounds hit the most vulnerable populations. The elderly, obese (pressure ulcers), diabetics (foot ulcers), and people with vascular disease (vascular ulcers) fall prey.
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