一品探花论坛-NC State labs team up to bust clots

Med-tech startup SonoVascular combines drug-based and mechanical therapies to treat patients with blood clots.

Three individuals standing next to each other in front of combined UNC and NC State logo flag.
Paul Dayton (center), the William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor and chair of the鈥疷NC-NC State of biomedical engineering joint department, said the collaboration between the two universities 鈥渁llowed this project to be very successful.鈥 (Sarah Daniels/Innovate 一品探花论坛)

In the past, physicians mostly used drugs to dissolve blood clots to treat people suffering from鈥 or. But certain risks and high costs later caused clinicians to turn to mechanical devices to capture and/or suction out clots. The devices didn鈥檛 use drugs, but the process had its own safety issues.

鈥淲e suggest that the pendulum is going to swing back toward the middle because physicians would like to have the benefit of both approaches,鈥 said founder and CEO鈥. 鈥淲e鈥檙e combining pharmacological and mechanical approaches into one hybrid system to get a more effective and safer outcome that does not require the patient to be treated in the ICU.鈥

SonoVascular鈥檚 SonoThrombectomy system brings together several elements: ultrasound, microbubbles, low-dose thrombolytic drugs and a less aggressive mechanical retrieval/aspiration device, said Estay.

鈥淭he most novel aspect is that we use intravascular ultrasound in combination with microbubbles and low-dosage thrombolytic drugs,鈥 Estay said. 鈥淎nd based on what we鈥檝e seen, we believe that after a physician performs that first part of the procedure, they are then better able to use a gentler mechanical device to physically extract any residual clot that remains, which improves your safety profile.鈥

Academic collaboration, commercial innovation

The ultrasound catheter behind SonoVascular鈥檚 unique procedure works in tandem with microbubbles and thrombolytic drugs to break up clots better. The developers of the underlying ultrasound technology are鈥, Dean F. Duncan Distinguished Professor in , and, William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor and chair of the鈥.

Research collaborators for nearly 15 years, Jiang and Dayton published a research paper in 2017 at the conclusion of grant they secured from the National Institutes of Health to investigate intervascular coronary imaging. A description of their research published in a vascular journal caught the eye of Estay, who contacted Jiang to express interest.

鈥淎mazingly, the second or third day after the publication, Dan sent me an email saying that he was located in the Research Triangle area and was a veteran in the field with years of experience,鈥 said Jiang, who along with Dayton, serves as a scientific adviser to SonoVascular. 鈥淲e met and I showed him around our lab at NC State. He showed interest, and the company started in 2018 right after the paper published.鈥

By combining the respective research strengths of both universities, Jiang鈥檚 and Dayton鈥檚 labs built a productive partnership. 鈥淭he great collaboration between Xiaoning鈥檚鈥 鈥攚hich has world-class expertise in pure engineering and transducer design 鈥 and our鈥,鈥痺hich focused on a lot of applications 鈥 the chemistry, microbubbles and testing 鈥 in combination with the clinical expertise of UNC physicians allowed this project to be very successful,鈥 said Dayton. 鈥淲e鈥檝e had students go back and forth between our labs who bring devices to 一品探花论坛 or microbubbles to NC State so we can all do studies together.鈥

The universities鈥 tech transfer arms 鈥 the鈥痑苍诲鈥 鈥 work together to manage intellectual property assets that are licensed to SonoVascular, some of which are jointly owned by the schools.

鈥淲e have an intellectual property sharing memorandum across the campuses, so some of the patents are filed through NC State, and some are filed through 一品探花论坛,鈥 said Dayton. 鈥淭he two universities have a path forward for negotiation, so it鈥檚 worked very smoothly and has been very enabling for the commercial direction.鈥