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03/31/2008 - Aegis Biosciences Discovers Blood Breakthrough

In the field of bioscience, the lucky researcher finds a wholly new application while working to prove the value of a substance for another use. Think Viagra. In a possibly more valuable instance, Aegis Biosciences, while working on a wound dressing, found that their polymer could be the “next big thing” in cardiovascular medicine. Of course, it will require a lot of testing, and plenty of money to prove the case, but the National Institutes of Health has provided Aegis a boost with a $150,895 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant.

The Aegis polymer – a peptide-modified styrene sulfonate polymer – will be studied for use in blood vessel repair, vascular grafts, and for vascular tissue engineering. The polymer shows tremendous promise because it has great blood compatibility and blood components won’t stick to it. This means no dangerous blood clot potential, even without the constant use of anticoagulant medications. In addition, the peptide encourages blood vessel cells to migrate along the surface of the graft and completely cover the polymer material with a “new” blood vessel. Following that, the blood won’t even know the basic supporting polymer is there. “This is an elegantly simple approach to a complex problem,” says Dave Vachon, Ph.D., Aegis CTO.

There is a lot of work to be done before any device using the polymer can be approved for use in humans. There will be exhaustive in vitro studies – primarily carried out at Case Western Reserve – followed by (in vivo) animal studies to evaluate safety and efficacy. The polymer will be evaluated against today’s approved materials and stents to determine if the polymer’s chemistry will prove superior to existing materials technology. Studies will require time and money.

Vachon is very optimistic. “It’s good work, fun work, intellectually stimulating, and I like the idea of making a difference in society. We think it could be big.”

Aegis Biosciences is a Sirti accelerator tenant. Aegis Biosciences was founded in 1996 by Timothy Tangredi, an entrepreneur, and Gary Wnek, an academician. Dave Vachon met the two when Tangredi brought a new polymer to Vachon’s lab for evaluation of its potential as a material for application in medical devices. When Vachon’s employing company was sold, and his research group dissolved in 2002, Vachon became a partner in Aegis Biosciences. The company moved into Sirti three years ago. Aegis has two issued patents and several more patents pending.

To learn more about Aegis and their polymer technology, visit .

Billie Moreland
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