San Antonio (Oct. 24, 2003) – Isaac Asimov’s “Fantastic Voyage” of the 1960s envisioned a day of surgical miniaturization when a submarine would cruise inside the body making repairs as needed. The micro-submarine isn’t yet a reality, but a Texas company, Advanced Bio Prosthetic Surfaces (ABPS), in conjunction with professors at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is building miniaturized devices that would make Asimov proud.
The company has proprietary technology to create a new generation of stents and other vascular devices that will be readily accepted by the body’s tissues and that have the potential to include “smart” features, such as a range of sensors to deliver key diagnostic information. “The possibilities are unlimited when we reach that level of miniaturization,” said Julio C. Palmaz, M.D., Health Science Center radiologist and the driving force behind ABPS.
“Our method is new to the medical device industry,” said Christopher E. Banas, co-founder and CEO of ABPS. “It utilizes nanotechnology that permits us to fabricate materials very precisely, atom by atom and layer by layer.” The resulting devices cannot be made using conventional techniques or materials, and they hold the promise of improving the standard of care for patients. Rights to technologies developed by the ABPS-Health Science Center partnership are likely to be licensed to a major U.S. medical device company.
Dr. Palmaz’s stent, which he invented at the Health Science Center in the 1980s, was a huge winner for Cordis, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. In Vivo magazine calls it “arguably the most important medical device launched in the last two decades.”
People may not realize the first vascular stent came from San Antonio and Dr. Palmaz’s laboratory. Ironically, the city is again poised to revolutionize medicine – at a time when the market for vascular intervention devices is expected to grow exponentially in the years to come.