TCA Medical Device and Life Sciences Mixer: Developing a Radically Different Heart Stent, Shark Tank!

Past Tides
November 22, 2017 By Wendy Wolfson

On November 13, the Tech Coast Angels second annual Med Tech Mixer featured keynote speaker Stanton J. Rowe, chief scientific officer, Edwards Lifesciences. Rowe discussed the development of the transcatheter percutaneous valve that now forms an important business unit at Edwards Lifesciences. The Tech Coast Angels Fund has 330 members in Southern California. According to Grant Van Cleve, president, TCA-OC, last year, the Orange County branch saw a 40% increase in membership as well as significant funding rounds and exits.

Michelle Khine, professor of biomedical engineering at UCI and director of the BioENGINE program, recounted that BioENGINE expanded to include programs in medtech and digital health a few years ago. Student teams primed with seed intellectual property from UCI or early stage inventions–that companies including Edwards Lifesciences, Medtronic, and Halyard Health wish to investigate–develop innovations and compete in presentations at the end of the project. In the winter quarter, students can participate in a mentorship program to learn the commercial nuances of developing a medical device.

Keynote speaker Stanton Rowe created a startup to commercialize a coronary stent implanted by a catheter instead of open-heart surgery. The transcatheter percutaneous valve (PHV) is meant for elderly patients with inoperable atrial stenosis, whose arteries are blocked by calcium deposits. Edwards Lifesciences acquired the company in 2004.

Rowe advised med device entrepreneurs to determine the health economics equation of their devices. Currently the PHV saves a healthcare system $15,000 a year. Next steps are to treat patients with bio-prosthetic valves and low risk patients to improve quality of life.

The evening concluded with a rousing Shark Tank competition won by Lavance Northington, CEO of Cellgen Diagnostics, a genetic platform for detecting biomarkers that matches people to the right therapeutic. Northington received $1000 and a stuffed blue shark for his two minute presentation, followed by iCellVivo in second place—which received $700 and a grey shark–and third-place holder MD Backbone–the recipient of a stuffed baby shark.