5 November 2008

Alexander Seifalian, Professor of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine and his research team received a Business Innovation Award in the Life Sciences and Healthcare category at this years UK Nano Forum and Emerging Technologies event.

The award is in recognition of the development of a revolutionary polymer material, for use as a heart valve. Professor Seifalian accepted the award on behalf of his research team. The platform technology which has the potential to be used in a wide spectrum of medical devices follows a recent £100,000 grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to carry out a feasibility study to develop a revolutionary polymer-coated stent for the treatment of coronary heart disease.

In the UK uncoated bare metal stents and coated drug-eluting stents are licensed for clinical use. However bare metal stents have a higher rate of in-stent restenosis (the re-narrowing of the vessel wall after treatment) and drug-eluting stents have a tendency towards late-stage thrombosis (clot formation). Evidence from many sources including The Lancet suggests that drug eluting stents have the adverse effect of actively inhibiting blood vessel endothelialisation (the natural healing process of tissue re-growth over the stent to prevent thrombosis) and thus preventing normal cellular repair in and around the stent which is important in preventing thrombosis and restenosis. The team’s polymer has been developed with the unique property of attracting and circulating endothelial cells. These provide a natural lining which actively promotes vessel wall healing which, unlike bare metal or drug eluting stents, will reduce the risk of thrombosis and restenosis.

“We believe the use of the polymer to coat stents will address the problems associated with current stents and may lead to a reduction in stent failure rates” said Professor Seifalian. According to Professor Hamilton “This promises to have a positive effect on patient morbidity and mortality and will alleviate some of the cost burden on the NHS due to repeat procedures”.

Professor Seifalian and Professor Hamilton’s team are supported by UCLB who are providing vital regulatory, business and project management support to ensure the route to clinical trials is as efficient as possible. UCLB is also identifying industry partners to commercialise the technology.

About the award
In its fourth year, the UK NanoForum & Emerging Technologies 2009 event comprises a two-day conference and exhibition bringing over 100 senior international delegates and 350 UK delegates together to network and identify potential business and collaboration opportunities. The Business Innovation Awards hosted at the event showcases the very best of British innovation. In addition to Life Science and Healthcare, other award categories included Energy & Environment and Materials & Devices.

The award is in recognition of the development of a revolutionary polymer material, for use as a heart valve. Professor Seifalian accepted the award on behalf of his team including Arnold Darbyshire, polymer chemist, Gaetano Burriesci, lecturer in engineering, who worked on design of percutaneous heart valve and Prof Bonhoeffer, consultant paediatric cardiologist investigating clinical application of heart valve.

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Further information
For further information contact Ms. Karen Cheetham, Director-Projects, UCL Business PLC on 020 7679 9000, (k.cheetham@uclb.com)