The University of Arizona

Slepian-Led Startup Targets Paradigm Shift in Heart Valve Surgery

University Relations - Communications | June 11, 2014

Dr. Marvin J. Slepian, UA professor of medicine and biomedical engineering and a cardiologist at the UA Sarver Heart Center, is the founding CEO of PolyNova.

Dr. Marvin J. Slepian
Dr. Marvin J. Slepian
The conventional tissue trileaflet heart valve currently in clinical use (left) depicts much higher stresses (red color) compared to the new PolyNova trileaflet polymeric valve (right) that has been engineered to dramatically reduce valve stress. This translates into reduced wear, increased durability, reduced platelet activation and reduced stroke risk. The new valve is made of an elastomeric polymer material so it can be collapsed and deployed in a smaller hole than what presently is required for TAVR.
The conventional tissue trileaflet heart valve currently in clinical use (left) depicts much higher stresses (red color) compared to the new PolyNova trileaflet polymeric valve (right) that has been engineered to dramatically reduce valve stress. This translates into reduced wear, increased durability, reduced platelet activation and reduced stroke risk. The new valve is made of an elastomeric polymer material so it can be collapsed and deployed in a smaller hole than what presently is required for TAVR.

PolyNova, a startup company that has grown out of an inter-institutional collaboration between the University of Arizona and Stony Brook University, is developing a novel polymeric prosthetic heart valve.

Sarver Heart Center cardiologist Dr. Marvin J. Slepian, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the UA, is the founding CEO of the new venture. PolyNova entered an exclusive option to the patent rights jointly held by the two universities earlier this spring.

PolyNova aims to revolutionize treatment of valvular heart disease. The company plans to use synthetic biomaterials to create new valve replacement technologies for a new transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, procedure. The new materials and operation would allow surgeons to replace a diseased heart valve with a synthetic one via a catheter run inside the aorta, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery.

PolyNova has received $100,000 in seed funding to transition the technology from the lab to the marketplace. Half of the funds were provided by The Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund, and the other half by the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund.

"This award will help further advance this technology down the regulatory pathway, as well as develop business and marketing strategies to leverage additional funding," said Slepian. "Development of a safe, effective and durable percutaneous heart valve made of novel, clot-resistant polymeric materials will expand the availability of this therapy to patients both in developed countries as well as in underserved areas worldwide."

Currently, TAVR technology uses a valve made with bovine tissue and carries a risk of blood clots.

According to David Allen, vice president of Tech Launch Arizona: "All of the elements of the venture – from the partnership it was founded upon to its goals of making these therapies more accessible – speak to the University of Arizona's Never Settle strategic plan, which, under the leadership of President Ann Weaver Hart, prioritizes innovating new solutions that impact society and partnering with people and organizations to bring such novel inventions and ideas to the world through commercial pathways."

"This is a good example of how collaboration between universities drives innovation," said Slepian.

PolyNova, located in Stony Brook, N.Y., was co-founded by Slepian and collaborators Danny Bluestein and Thomas E. (Ted) Claiborne of Stony Brook University.

Slepian has developed and commercialized a number of inventions; he is widely recognized for leading SynCardia Systems, Inc., a company that manufactures the world's first and only FDA-approved total artificial heart.

Contacts

Katie Maass
UA Sarver Heart Center
520-626-4083
kmaass@shc.arizona.edu
 
Paul Tumarkin
Tech Launch Arizona
520-626-8770
pault@tla.arizona.edu