Forgotten Opportunities: Early Stage Biotech and Medtech Investment

Due to the uncertainty in the development, clinical testing, and regulatory approval of both biotech and medical technologies, which increasingly have to be viewed with the same competitive lens, investors have over the past few years shied away from seed stage or Series A stage company investment in favor of those nearer to market introduction. However, with the advent of a great number of new technologies and advances in the underlying science, there is enormous opportunity to identify companies and emerging sectors arising from these advances. The problem in identifying realistically promising companies is that it must be done so without falling prey to the bad investment practices in the past that ensued from a poor understanding of the technologies and their remaining commercial hurdles. Without careful consideration of remaining scientific development needed, the product’s target market, its competitors, and the sum total of the company’s capabilities to commercialize these technologies, investment in these areas will fall short of investment objectives or fail them outright.

While any of these considerations have the capacity to preempt a successful market introduction, a failure to understand the science behind the product and its remaining development hurdles to commercialization is likely to be the biggest cause of failure.

“We’ve already had one glaring example of a company, and its investors, learning the hard way that health and science advisors are important: Theranos.” (link)

Venture Capital has backed away from early stage investment

Earlier stage investment, with its higher risk, has higher potential reward, so there is a big need for more effective evaluation of potential early stage investments in order to (1) seize these opportunities that will otherwise potentially be lost with the shift to later stage fundings, (2) sort out those companies/technologies with overwhelming commercialization hurdles from those that will profitably tap an opportunity, and (3) gain the value of these opportunities before the innovation appreciates in value, driving up the price of the investment.

The Biotech Bubble

Biotech in the 1980s was enamored with companies pursuing “magic bullets” — technologies that had the potential to cure cancer or heart disease or other conditions with large, untapped or under-treated populations. With few exceptions, these all-in-one-basket efforts were only able achieve a measure of humility in the VCs who had poured volumes of money into them.

Here was evidenced a fundamental problem with biotech at a time when true scientific milestones were being reached, including successes in mapping the human genome: Landmark scientific milestones do not equate with commercial success.

As a result, money fled from biotech as few products could make it to market due to persistent development and FDA hurdles. By the late 1980s, many biotechs saw three quarters of their value disappear.

A Renewed Bubble?

The status of biomedical science and technology, with multiple synergistic developments, will lead to wild speculation and investment, potentially leading to yet another investment bubble. However, there will be advances that can point to real timelines for market introduction that will support investment.

Recent advances, developments and trends supporting emerging therapeutics

  1. Stem cells. A double-edged sword in that these do represent some the biggest therapeutics that will emerge, yet caution is advised since the mechanisms to control stem cells are not always sufficient to prevent their nasty tendency to become carcinogenic.
  2. Drug discovery models, such as using human “organoids” and other cell-based models to test or screen new drugs.
  3. Systems to accelerate the rapid evaluation of hundreds, perhaps, thousands of potential drugs before moving to animal models or preclinicals.
    1. Machine-learning algorithms
    2. Cell/tissue/organ models
    3. Meta-analysis, the practice of analyzing multiple, independently produced clinical data to draw conclusions from the broader dataset.
  4. Cross-discipline science
    1. cell biologists, immunologists, molecular biologists and others have a better understanding of pathology and therapeutics as a result of information sharing; plus BIG DATA (e.g., as part of the “Cancer Moonshot”). Thought leaders have called for collection and harnessing of patient data on a large scale and centralized for use in evaluating treatments for specific patients and cancer types.
    2. Artificial intelligence applied to diagnosis and prescribed therapeutics (e.g., IBM Watson).
    3. Examples of resulting therapies, at a minimum, include multimodal treatment – e.g., radiotherapy and immunotherapy – but more often may be represented in considerably more backend research and testing to identify and develop products with greater specificity, greater efficacy, and lowered risk of complications.
  5. Materials science developments, selected examples:
    1. Scaffolds in tissue engineering
    2. Microgels
    3. Graphene
    4. Polyhedral boranes
    5. Nanometric imprinting on fiber
    6. Knitted muscles to provide power link
    7. 3-D printed skin and more complex organs to come
    8. Orthopedic scaffolds made from electrospun nanofibers
  6. CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy)
  7. CRISPR/Cas-9. Gene editing
    1. Removal, insertion of individual genes responsible for disease
    2. Potential use for creating chimeras of human and other (e.g., pig) species in order to, for example, use pigs for growing human organs for transplant.
  8. Smart devices: smart biopsy needles, surgical probes to detect cancer margins, artificial pancreas. Devices using information

 

We sum this up with these prerequisites for investment:

Prerequisites for Early Stage Med/Bio Investment

  1. A fully understood and managed gap between scientific advance and commercial reality.
    1. Investment must be tied to specific steps (prototyping, preclinicals, clinicals, physician training, etc.).
  2. A management team qualified in commercializing medtech or biotech products.
    1. CEOs (and/or Chief Medical Officers, Chief Scientific Officers) with medical science backgrounds (MD, PhD) favored over CPAs or even JDs.
  3. Reimbursement strategy pursued as something more than an afterthought
  4. Technology development in sync with end-user acceptance and training to leverage the benefits:
    1. Easier to use
    2. Fewer complications
    3. Attractive physician revenue streams
  5. Broad competitive advantage pursued:
    1. Product benefits must stand up against all competition, irrespective of technology type (devices competing with drugs, biotech).
    2. Benefits of reducing the cost of care for an existing patient population are paramount.
    3. Competitive advantage must consider the trend in technology development to avoid being disrupted by other products soon to reach the market.
  6. Predefined exit strategy; selected examples:
    1. Positioning to add innovation to a mid-cap or large-cap medtech or biotech as acquirers.
    2. Development of platform technologies for licensing or sale.
    3. IPO

 

Future investments are likely to track the historical focus on specific diseases and conditions:

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC and Emerging Therapeutic Company Investment and Deal Trends; Biotechnology Innovation Organization.


MedMarket Diligence, mediligence.com, tracks medical and biotechnology development to provide meaningful insights for manufacturers, investors, and other stakeholders.

The best medtech investment opportunities

In reviewing patents, fundings, technology development trends, market development, and other hard data sources, we feel these are some of the strongest areas for investment in not only the medical device side of medtech, but also the broader biomedical technology arena:

  • Materials technologies
    • graphene
    • bioresorbables
    • biosensors
    • polymers
    • bioadhesives
  • Cell therapy and tissue engineering
    • cell-based treatments (diabetes, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury)
    • extracellular matrices in soft tissue repair and regeneration
  • Nanotechnology (subject of forthcoming report)
    • nano coatings
    • nano- and micromedical technologies for localized drug delivery
    • nanoparticles
  • 3D printing
    • prototype development
    • patient-specific implants
  • Minimally- and non-invasive technologies
    • transcatheter alternatives to surgery
    • NOTES (natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery)
  • Diabetes non-invasive glucose testing
  • Intraoperative surgical guidance
    • Cancer probes (e.g., fluorescent or optical coherence tomography, frozen section, cytologic imprint analysis, ultrasound, micro-computed tomography, near-infrared imaging, and spectroscopy)
  • neurostimulation and neuromodulation
  • point-of-care diagnostics
  • point-of-care imaging
  • AI-enhanced devices

In addition, there are many areas in healthcare in which there is much untapped demand with problems that, so far, seem to have eluded medtech solutions. These include infection control (Zika, MRSA, TB, nosocomial infections, etc.), chronic wound treatment (including decubitus/stasis/diabetic ulcers), type 2 diabetes and obesity.

 

Technologies at Recent Medtech Startups

Below is a list of the technologies under development at medical technology startups identified in October 2016 and included in the Medtech Startups Database:

  • Neuro-stimulation via patch.
  • Epinephrine auto-injector
  • Portable ultrasound device to detect the occurrence of strokes.
  • Medication adherence device to facilitate self-injection.
  • Diagnosis of malaria and sickle cell.
  • Implant devices to fight biofilms and infection.
  • Technologies to address infection and other risk in nursing protocols.
  • Electronic bone depth gauge for use in orthopedics.
  • Peripheral chronic total occlusion device.
  • Deep learning and artificial intelligence in point of care ultrasound.
  • Quantitative transmission ultrasound.

A historical listing of technologies at medtech startups (through January 2016).

The Regimens for Assessing and Treating Wound Types

Wound treatment starts with diagnosis. Acute wounds are often surgically created, or dealt with in accident and emergency (A&E) settings. Diagnosis in the acute scenario usually focuses on cleanliness and tidying of the wound edges to enable securement using sutures or glue products. If major trauma has occurred, hemostats and sealants may be required. In the chronic scenario, diagnosis is a process that occurs at every treatment session. The practitioner will examine size, appearance and odor changes to the wound, and from this process determine the ideal management. In addition, it is likely that the physician will take samples to send for microbial assessment if infection becomes a concern.

Following diagnosis and assessment, treatment will be established based on known efficacy and cost of individual dressings, knowledge of the potential products that may be used, and their availability. This will be determined by reimbursement, local purchasing decisions, and resources.

For chronic wounds, treatment often involves symptoms; many products are designed to remove aesthetically unpleasant aspects of wounds such as exudates, smell, and visibility.

Management of exudates also has a wound-healing benefit. Too much exudate leads to hydrolytic damage and maceration of the tissue and surrounding skin. Too little moisture leads to drying out of the wound and cell death. As a result, many advanced wound management products have been developed to optimize the moist wound healing environment. As a huge variety of wound conditions arise, a large number of dressings has been developed to help manage the full range of circumstances that may be encountered. These include dressings made from foams, polyurethane films, alginates, hydrocolloids, and biomaterials to manage exudates, which may be present in vast quantities (perhaps as much as two liters per square meter per day). Other products are designed to moisten the wound to optimize healing (amorphous hydrogels for example).

Much of the advanced wound management market has evolved to improve exudates management in the home setting, in order to reduce the need for visits by practitioners and the associated cost.

Types and Uses of Select Wound Care Products

    
Dressing categoryProduct examplesDescriptionPotential applications
FilmHydrofilm, Release, Tegaderm, BioclusiveComes as adhesive, thin transparent polyurethane film, and as a dressing with a low adherent pad attached to the film.Clean, dry wounds, minimal exudate; also used to cover and secure underlying absorptive dressing, and on hard-to-bandage locations, such as heel.
FoamPermaFoam
PolyMem
Biatain
Polyurethane foam dressing available in sheets or in cavity filling shapes. Some foam dressing have a semipermeable, waterproof layer as the outer layer of the dressingFacilitates a moist wound environment for healing. Used to clean granulating wounds which have minimal exudate.
HydrogelHydrosorb Gel Sheet, Purilon, Aquasorb, DuoDerm, Intrasite Gel, GranugelColloids which consist of polymers that expand in water. Available in gels, sheets, hydrogel-impregnated dressings.Provides moist wound environment for cell migration, reduces pain, helps to rehydrate eschar. Used on dry, sloughy or necrotic wounds.
HydrocolloidCombiDERM, Hydrocoll, Comfeel, DuoDerm CGF Extra Thin, Granuflex, Tegasorb, Nu-DermMade of hydroactive or hydrophilic particles attached to a hydrophobic polymer. The hydrophilic particles absorb moisture from the wound, convert it to a gel at the interface with the wound. Conforms to wound surface; waterproof and bacteria proof.Gel formation at wound interface provides moist wound environment. Dry necrotic wounds, or for wounds with minimal exudate. Also used for granulating wounds.
AlginateAlgiSite, Sorbalgon Curasorb, Kaltogel, Kaltostat, SeaSorb, TegagelA natural polysaccharide derived from seaweed; available in a range of sizes, as well as in ribbons and ropes.Because highly absorbent, used for wounds with copious exudate. Can be used in rope form for packing exudative wound cavities or sinus tracts.
AntimicrobialBiatain Ag
Atrauman Ag
MediHoney
Both silver and honey are used as antimicrobial elements in dressings.Silver: Requires wound to be moderately exudative to activate the silver, in order to be effective
NPWDSNa
V.A.C. Ulta
PICO
Renasys (not in USA)
Prospera PRO series
Invia Liberty
Computerized vacuum device applies continuous or intermittent negative or sub-atmospheric pressure to the wound surface. NPWT accelerates wound healing, reduces time to wound closure. Comes in both stationary and portable versions.May be used for traumatic acute wound, open amputations, open abdomen, etc. Seems to increase burn wound perfusion. Also used in management of DFUs. Contraindicated for arterial insufficiency ulcers. Not to be used if necrotic tissue is present in over 30% of the wound.
Bioengineered Skin and Skin SubstitutesAlloDerm, AlloMax, FlexHD, DermACELL, DermaMatrix, DermaPure, Graftjacket Regenerative Tissue Matrix, PriMatrix, SurgiMend PRS, Strattice Reconstructive Tissue Matrix, Permacol, EpiFix, OASIS Wound Matrix, Apligraf, Dermagraft, Integra Dermal Regeneration Template, TransCyteBio-engineered skin and soft tissue substitutes may be derived from human tissue (autologous or allogeneic), xenographic, synthetic materials, or a composite of these materials.Burns, trauma wounds, DFUs, VLUs, pressure ulcers, postsurgical breast reconstruction, bullous diseases

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S251.

In some cases, the wound may be covered by a black necrotic tissue or yellow sloughy material. These materials develop from dead cells, nucleic acid materials, and denatured proteins. In order for new tissue to be laid down, this dead material needs to be removed. It may be done using hydrolytic debridement using hydrogels that soften the necrotic tissue, or by the use of enzymes. Surgical debridement is another option, but non-surgical debridement has the advantage that it is usually less painful and can be performed with fewer materials, less expertise, and less mess. It is possible to perform non-surgical debridement in the home setting. Debridement can also be performed to selectively remove dead tissue and thus encourage repair. Enzymatic debriders have been able to command a premium price in the market, and built a sizeable share of the wound management market, particularly during the 1990s when treatment in the home environment increased as a result of reductions in hospital-based treatment. These products are described in the section on cleansers and debriders.

Occasionally healthcare practitioners put maggots to work for wound debridement. Though esthetically unpleasant, maggots are very effective debriding agents because they distinguish rigorously between dead and living tissue. Military surgeons noticed the beneficial effect of maggots on soldiers’ wounds centuries ago, but maggot debridement therapy (MDT) as it is practiced today began in the 1920s and has lately been undergoing something of a revival. The maggots used have been disinfected during the egg stage so that they do not carry bacteria into the wound. The larvae preferentially consume dead tissue, they excrete an antibacterial agent, and they stimulate wound healing.

At the other end of the technological scale are skin substitutes, which have been developed to help in the management of extensive wounds such as burns. Autologous skin grafting is a well-established therapeutic technique; postage-stamp-sized sections of healthy skin are cultured and grown in vitro, then placed over the raw wound surface to serve as a focus for re-epithelialization. However, this process takes time; the wound is highly vulnerable to infection while the skin graft is being grown. A number of companies have developed alternatives in the form of synthetic skin substitutes. These are described further in the next section of the report.

A number of products have also been developed to deal with sloughy and infected wounds. These often incorporate antimicrobial agents. Often, infected wounds have a very unpleasant odor; a range of odor control dressings has arisen to deal with this.

Once wounds begin to heal, the amount of exudate starts to decrease. Some dressing products preserve moisture but are also non-adhesive, so that the dressing does not adhere to the new epithelializing skin. These products are called non-adherent dressings and include a range of tulle dressings, which usually consist of a loose weave of non-adherent fabric designed to allow exudates to pass through the gaps. A subgroup of dressings is designed to keep the skin moist in order to reduce scarring after healing.

For wounds that do not appear to be healing, a number of companies have explored the potential to add growth factors and cells to promote and maintain healing. In addition, companies have attempted to use energy sources to accelerate wound healing, and these are described in the section on physical treatments. The main example of physical treatment is the use of devices which apply negative pressure over the wound and have been shown to dramatically shorten the healing of diabetic ulcers and other chronic wounds.

Often, a dressing will serve more than one purpose. Therefore, it is difficult to generalize and collect only dressings that serve one purpose into a single category. For example, Systagenix’s Actisorb Plus (Systagenix is now owned by Acelity) is a woven, low-adherent odor control antimicrobial dressing designed to optimize moist wound healing through its exudates handling properties.


From, Worldwide Wound Management, Forecast to 2024; MedMarket Diligence, LLC. 

Where will medicine be in 2035?

An important determinant of “where medicine will be” in 2035 is the set of dynamics and forces behind healthcare delivery systems, including primarily the payment method, especially regarding reimbursement. It is clear that some form of reform in healthcare will result in a consolidation of the infrastructure paying for and managing patient populations. The infrastructure is bloated and expensive, unnecessarily adding to costs that neither the federal government nor individuals can sustain. This is not to say that I predict movement to a single payer system — that is just one perceived solution to the problem. There are far too many costs in healthcare that offer no benefits in terms of quality; indeed, such costs are a true impediment to quality. Funds that go to infrastructure (insurance companies and other intermediaries) and the demands they put on healthcare delivery work directly against quality of care. So, in the U.S., whether Obamacare persists (most likely) or is replaced with a single payer system, state administered healthcare (exchanges) or some other as-yet-unidentified form, there will be change in how healthcare is delivered from a cost/management perspective. 

From the clinical practice and technology side, there will be enormous changes to healthcare. Here are examples of what I see from tracking trends in clinical practice and medical technology development:

  • Cancer 5 year survival rates will, for many cancers, be well over 90%. Cancer will largely be transformed in most cases to chronic disease that can be effectively managed by surgery, immunology, chemotherapy and other interventions. Cancer and genomics, in particular, has been a lucrative study (see The Cancer Genome Atlas). Immunotherapy developments are also expected to be part of many oncology solutions. Cancer has been a tenacious foe, and remains one we will be fighting for a long time, but the fight will have changed from virtually incapacitating the patient to following protocols that keep cancer in check, if not cure/prevent it. 
  • Diabetes Type 1 (juvenile onset) will be managed in most patients by an “artificial pancreas”, a closed loop glucometer and insulin pump that will self-regulate blood glucose levels. OR, stem cell or other cell therapies may well achieve success in restoring normal insulin production and glucose metabolism in Type 1 patients. The odds are better that a practical, affordable artificial pancreas will developed than stem or other cell therapy, but both technologies are moving aggressively and will gain dramatic successes within 20 years.

Developments in the field of the “artificial pancreas” have recently gathered considerable pace, such that, by 2035, type 1 blood glucose management may be no more onerous than a house thermostat due to the sophistication and ease-of-use made possible with the closed loop, biofeedback capabilities of the integrated glucometer, insulin pump and the algorithms that drive it, but that will not be the end of the development of better options for type 1 diabetics. Cell therapy for type 1 diabetes, which may be readily achieved by one or more of a wide variety of cellular approaches and product forms (including cell/device hybrids) may well have progressed by 2035 to become another viable alternative for type 1 diabetics.

  • Diabetes Type 2 (adult onset) will be a significant problem governed by different dynamics than Type 1. A large body of evidence will exist that shows dramatically reduced incidence of Type 2 associated with obesity management (gastric bypass, satiety drugs, etc.) that will mitigate the growing prevalence of Type 2, but research into pharmacologic or other therapies may at best achieve only modest advances. The problem will reside in the complexity of different Type 2 manifestation, the late onset of the condition in patients who are resistant to the necessary changes in lifestyle and the global epidemic that will challenge dissemination of new technologies and clinical practices to third world populations.

Despite increasing levels of attention being raised to the burden of type 2 worldwide, including all its sequellae (vascular, retinal, kidney and other diseases), the pace of growth globally in type 2 is still such that it will represent a problem and target for pharma, biotech, medical device, and other disciplines.

  • Cell therapy and tissue engineering will offer an enormous number of solutions for conditions currently treated inadequately, if at all. Below is an illustration of the range of applications currently available or in development, a list that will expand (along with successes in each) over the next 20 years.

    Cell therapy will have deeply penetrated virtually every medical specialty by 2035. Most advanced will be those that target less complex tissues: bone, muscle, skin, and select internal organ tissues (e.g., bioengineered bladder, others). However, development will have also followed the money. Currently, development and use of conventional technologies in areas like cardiology, vascular, and neurology entails high expenditure that creates enormous investment incentive that will drive steady development of cell therapy and tissue engineering over the next 20 years, with the goal of better, long-term and/or less costly solutions.
  • Gene therapy will be an option for a majority of genetically-based diseases (especially inherited diseases) and will offer clinical options for non-inherited conditions. Advances in the analysis of inheritance and expression of genes will also enable advanced interventions to either ameliorate or actually preempt the onset of genetic disease.

    As the human genome is the engineering plans for the human body, it is a potential mother lode for the future of medicine, but it remains a complex set of plans to elucidate and exploit for the development of therapies. While genetically-based diseases may readily be addressed by gene therapies in 2035, the host of other diseases that do not have obvious genetic components will resist giving up easy gene therapy solutions. Then again, within 20 years a number of reasonable advances in understanding and intervention could open the gate to widespread “gene therapy” (in some sense) for a breadth of diseases and conditions –> Case in point, the recent emergence of the gene-editing technology, CRISPR, has set the stage for practical applications to correct genetically-based conditions.
  • Drug development will be dramatically more sophisticated, reducing the development time and cost while resulting in drugs that are far more clinically effective (and less prone to side effects). This arises from drug candidates being evaluated via distributed processing systems (or quantum computer systems) that can predict efficacy and side effect without need of expensive and exhaustive animal or human testing.The development of effective drugs will have been accelerated by both modeling systems and increases in our understanding of disease and trauma, including pharmacogenomics to predict drug response. It may not as readily follow that the costs will be reduced, something that may only happen as a result of policy decisions.
  • Most surgical procedures will achieve the ability to be virtually non-invasive. Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) will enable highly sophisticated surgery without ever making an abdominal or other (external) incision. Technologies like “gamma knife” and similar will have the ability to destroy tumors or ablate pathological tissue via completely external, energy-based systems.

    By 2035, technologies such as these will measurably reduce inpatient stays, on a per capita basis, since a significant reason for overnight stays is the trauma requiring recovery, and eliminating trauma is a major goal and advantage of minimally invasive technologies (e.g., especially the NOTES technology platform). A wide range of other technologies (e.g., gamma knife, minimally invasive surgery/intervention, etc.) across multiple categories (device, biotech, pharma) will also have emerged and succeeded in the market by producing therapeutic benefit while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage.

Information technology will radically improve patient management. Very sophisticated electronic patient records will dramatically improve patient care via reduction of contraindications, predictive systems to proactively manage disease and disease risk, and greatly improve the decision-making of physicians tasked with diagnosing and treating patients.There are few technical hurdles to the advancement of information technology in medicine, but even in 2035, infotech is very likely to still be facing real hurdles in its use as a result of the reluctance in healthcare to give up legacy systems and the inertia against change, despite the benefits.

  • Personalized medicine. Perfect matches between a condition and its treatment are the goal of personalized medicine, since patient-to-patient variation can reduce the efficacy of off-the-shelf treatment. The thinking behind gender-specific joint replacement has led to custom-printed 3D implants. The use of personalized medicine will also be manifested by testing to reveal potential emerging diseases or conditions, whose symptoms may be ameliorated or prevented by intervention before onset.
  • Systems biology will underlie the biology of most future medical advances in the next 20 years. Systems biology is a discipline focused on an integrated understanding of cell biology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, and a wide range of other individual medical and scientific disciplines. It represents an implicit recognition of an organism as an embodiment of multiple, interdependent organ systems and its processes, such that both pathology and wellness are understood from the perspective of the sum total of both the problem and the impact of possible solutions.This orientation will be intrinsic to the development of medical technologies, and will increasingly be represented by clinical trials that throw a much wider and longer-term net around relevant data, staff expertise encompassing more medical/scientific disciplines, and unforeseen solutions that present themselves as a result of this approach.Other technologies being developed aggressively now will have an impact over the next twenty years, including medical/surgical robots (or even biobots), neurotechnologies to diagnose, monitor, and treat a wide range of conditions (e.g., spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.).

The breadth and depth of advances in medicine over the next 20 years will be extraordinary, since many doors have been recently opened as a result of advances in genetics, cell biology, materials science, systems biology and others — with the collective advances further stimulating both learning and new product development. 


See the 2016 report #290, “Worldwide Markets for Medical and Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats, 2015-2022.”

Medtech Startups, 2010-2015

From 2010 to present (Oct 2015), as included in the Medtech Startups Database, MedMarket Diligence identified 442 new (under one year old) medical technology startups whose businesses encompass, alone or in combination, medical devices, diagnostics, biomaterials, and the subset of both biotech and pharma that is in direct competition with medical devices, including tissue engineering and cell therapy. Of these, 74% were founded in the U.S., 5% were founded in Israel, and the rest were founded in 18 other countries.

Companies in the database have been categorized by clinical and/or technology area of focus, with multiple categories possible (e.g., minimally invasive and orthomusculoskeletal and surgery). Below is the composition of the companies identified from Jan. 2010 to Oct. 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 4.50.10 PM

Source: Medtech Startups Database

Below is a graphic on the companies by country. The U.S. (not shown) led with 327 companies.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 4.17.30 PM

Source: Medtech Startups Database

In the U.S., the breakdown by state, other than California and its 466 companies (excluded only to show states with significantly lower numbers), is as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 5.13.08 PM

Source: Medtech Startups Database

 

Sealants, Glues, Hemostasis and Wound Closure Market, Size and Growth

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

The simple practice of closing wounds is not so simple, driven as it is by the fact that wounds can be the conduit for blood, infectious agents and every other liquid, gas or solid that should not enter or exit the wound.  The closure has to be readily accomplished, regardless of where the wound exists. The closure should not only prevent blood from being lost but ideally should actively stop the bleeding. The wound must stay closed despite the pressures exerted upon it. The closure should also have a minimal “footprint”, with the closure components being easily removed, absorbed or otherwise leaving the least possible trace of the closure, including scar tissue.

Hence, tapes, staples, sutures, clips, hemostatic agents, sealants, glues and other devices have been developed to get the job done.  The market for this range of closure options now reflects biologics, absorbable materials, devices and other products. Fundamentally, the market remains largely dominated by sutures and staples/clips, which have satisfied the demands of internal/external closure, easy of use, low cost, strength of closure and other considerations, not least of which is the evolving nature of surgical practice from the “open” to endo/laparoscopic. Nonetheless, tighter wound sealing, less bleeding and better outcomes in general have driven manufacturers to develop improvements.

Below is illustrated the 2014 market for the range of wound closure products along with their associated growth rates. The prospects for medical/surgical tapes are the exception to the rule, demonstrating a steady decline while better alternatives demonstrate steady growth.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 10.08.13 AM

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S192

 

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

Where will medicine be in 20 years?

(This question was originally posed to me on Quora.com. I initially answered this in mid 2014 and am revisiting and updating the answers now, in mid 2015.)

An important determinant of “where medicine will be” in 2035 is the set of dynamics and forces behind healthcare delivery systems, including primarily the payment method, especially regarding reimbursement. It is clear that some form of reform in healthcare will result in a consolidation of the infrastructure paying for and managing patient populations. The infrastructure is bloated and expensive, unnecessarily adding to costs that neither the federal government nor individuals can sustain. This is not to say that I predict movement to a single payer system — that is just one perceived solution to the problem. There are far too many costs in healthcare that offer no benefits in terms of quality; indeed, such costs are a true impediment to quality. Funds that go to infrastructure (insurance companies and other intermediaries) and the demands they put on healthcare delivery work directly against quality of care. So, whether it is Obamacare, a single payer system, state administered healthcare (exchanges) or some other as-yet-unidentified form, there will be change in how healthcare is delivered from a cost/management perspective.

From the clinical practice and technology side, there will be enormous changes to healthcare. Here are examples of what I see from tracking trends in clinical practice and medical technology development:

  • Cancer 5 year survival rates will, for many cancers, be well over 90%. Cancer will largely be transformed in most cases to chronic disease that can be effectively managed by surgery, immunology, chemotherapy and other interventions.
    [View Aug. 2015: Cancer has been a tenacious foe, and remains one we will be fighting for a long time, but the fight will have changed from virtually incapacitating the patient to following protocols that keep cancer in check, if not cure/prevent it.] 
  • Diabetes Type 1 (juvenile onset) will be managed in most patients by an “artificial pancreas”, a closed loop glucometer and insulin pump that will self-regulate blood glucose levels. OR, stem cell or other cell therapies may well achieve success in restoring normal insulin production and glucose metabolism in Type 1 patients. The odds are better that a practical, affordable artificial pancreas will developed than stem or other cell therapy, but both technologies are moving aggressively and will gain dramatic successes within 20 years.
    [View Aug. 2015: Developments in the field of the “artificial pancreas” have recently gathered considerable pace, such that, by 2035, type 1 blood glucose management may be no more onerous than a house thermostat due to the sophistication and ease-of-use made possible with the closed loop, biofeedback capabilities of the integrated glucometer, insulin pump and the algorithms that drive it, but that will not be the end of the development of better options for type 1 diabetics. Cell therapy for type 1 diabetes, which may be readily achieved by one or more of a wide variety of cellular approaches and product forms (including cell/device hybrids) may well have progressed by 2035 to become another viable alternative for type 1 diabetics.] 
  • Diabetes Type 2 (adult onset) will be a significant problem governed by different dynamics than Type 1. A large body of evidence will exist that shows dramatically reduced incidence of Type 2 associated with obesity management (gastric bypass, satiety drugs, etc.) that will mitigate the growing prevalence of Type 2, but research into pharmacologic or other therapies may at best achieve only modest advances. The problem will reside in the complexity of different Type 2 manifestation, the late onset of the condition in patients who are resistant to the necessary changes in lifestyle and the global epidemic that will challenge dissemination of new technologies and clinical practices to third world populations.
    [View Aug. 2015: Despite increasing levels of attention being raised to the burden of type 2 worldwide, including all its sequellae (vascular, retinal, kidney and other diseases), the pace of growth globally in type 2 is still such that it will represent a problem and target for pharma, biotech, medical device, and other disciplines.] 
  • Cell therapy and tissue engineering will offer an enormous number of solutions for conditions currently treated inadequately, if at all. Below is an illustration of the range of applications currently available or in development, a list that will expand (along with successes in each) over the next 20 years.

    [View Aug. 2015: Cell therapy will have deeply penetrated virtually every medical specialty by 2035. Most advanced will be those that target less complex tissues: bone, muscle, skin, and select internal organ tissues (e.g., bioengineered bladder, others). However, development will have also followed the money. Currently, development and use of conventional technologies in areas like cardiology, vascular, and neurology entails high expenditure that creates enormous investment incentive that will drive steady development of cell therapy and tissue engineering over the next 20 years, with the goal of better, long-term and/or less costly solutions.] 

  • Gene therapy will be an option for a majority of genetically-based diseases (especially inherited diseases) and will offer clinical options for non-inherited conditions. Advances in the analysis of inheritance and expression of genes will also enable advanced interventions to either ameliorate or actually preempt the onset of genetic disease.
    [View Aug. 2015: It’s a double-edged sword with the human genome. As the human blueprint, It is the potential mother lode for the future of medicine, but it remains a complex set of plans to elucidate and exploit for the development of therapies. While genetically-based diseases may readily be addressed by gene therapies in 2035, the host of other diseases that do not have obvious genetic components will resist giving up easy gene therapy solutions. Then again, within 20 years a number of reasonable advances in understanding and intervention could open the gate to widespread “gene therapy” (in some sense) for a breadth of diseases and conditions.] 
  • Drug development will be dramatically more sophisticated, reducing the development time and cost while resulting in drugs that are far more clinically effective (and less prone to side effects). This arises from drug candidates being evaluated via distributed processing systems (or quantum computer systems) that can predict efficacy and side effect without need of expensive and exhaustive animal or human testing.
    [View Aug. 2015: The development of effective drugs will have been accelerated by both modeling systems and increases in our understanding of disease and trauma. It may not as readily follow that the costs will be reduced, something that may only happen as a result of policy decisions.] 
  • Most surgical procedures will achieve the ability to be virtually non-invasive. Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) will enable highly sophisticated surgery without ever making an abdominal or other (external) incision. Technologies like “gamma knife” and similar will have the ability to destroy tumors or ablate pathological tissue via completely external, energy-based systems.
    [View Aug. 2015: By 2035, technologies such as these will have measurably reduced inpatient stays, on a per capita basis, since a significant reason for overnight stays is the trauma requiring recovery, and eliminating trauma is a major goal and advantage of the NOTES technology platform. A wide range of technologies across multiple categories (device, biotech, pharma) will also have emerged and succeeded in the market by producing therapeutic benefit without collateral damage.] 
  • Information technology will radically improve patient management. Very sophisticated electronic patient records will dramatically improve patient care via reduction of contraindications, predictive systems to proactively manage disease and disease risk, and greatly improve the decision-making of physicians tasked with diagnosing and treating patients.
    [View Aug. 2015: There are few technical hurdles to the advancement of information technology in medicine, but even in 2035, infotech is very likely to still be facing real hurdles in its use as a result of the reluctance in healthcare to give up legacy systems and the inertia against change, despite the benefits.]
  • Systems biology will underlie the biology of most future medical advances in the next 20 years. Systems biology is a discipline focused on an integrated understanding of cell biology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, and a wide range of other individual medical and scientific disciplines. It represents an implicit recognition of an organism as an embodiment of multiple, interdependent organ systems and its processes, such that both pathology and wellness are understood from the perspective of the sum total of both the problem and the impact of possible solutions.
    [View Aug. 2015: This orientation will be intrinsic to the development of medical technologies, and will increasingly be represented by clinical trials that throw a much wider and longer-term net around relevant data, staff expertise encompassing more medical/scientific disciplines, and unforeseen solutions that present themselves as a result of this approach.]

There will be many more unforeseen medical advances achieved within 20 years, many arising from research that may not even be imagined yet. However, the above advances are based on actual research and/or the advances that have already arisen from that research.

Wound management spans big to small, established to startup

See also the October 2015 report, “Worldwide Wound Management, Forecast to 2024:
Established and Emerging Products, Technologies and Markets
in the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Rest of World”, Report #S251.


 The worldwide wound management market is represented by a mixture of a small group of well established companies like Johnson & Johnson, 3M, KCI, Smith & Nephew, Systagenix and Covidien and a large number of mid-sized and smaller companies with niche product offerings; see Report S249 for a list of profiled companies (and note that we have profiled a select number of active companies discussed in the report).

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 2.39.41 PM

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report S249.

The fastest-growing market segment is the Growth Factors market, with a compound annual growth rate well in excess of 20% annually since 2012. Favorable clinical evidence is a major driver of that growth. The largest product segment is Traditional Adhesive Dressings, followed by Negative Pressure Wound Therapy. The largely generic adhesive dressing continues to be used for the majority of wound care cases. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy is coming into increasing use as smaller devices allow use in non-hospital settings, and as the technology demonstrates efficacy.

The wound management market is, overall, a mature business sector which contains both long-established product groups and more recently developed approaches to wound care. Price competition remains the key strategy in maintaining value share for the major players. The major components of the market include:

  • Traditional wound care products, such as bandages, dressings and swabs made of generic cotton and textile fabrics.
  • Wound closure devices, including familiar devices such as sutures and staples, as well as newer methods of wound closure such as tissue sealants and glues; also hemostatic devices to help arrest bleeding while closing the wound. Wound closure devices are primarily used in surgery, and are not addressed in this report.
  • Advanced wound care (AWC) products. This umbrella covers dressings which are based on moist wound healing concepts, active therapies such as biomaterial composites and tissue engineered products, and products encompassing aspects of growth factors and angiogenesis. AWC products may be made of biopolymers, hydrocolloids, composites, foam materials, films, etc. These are used mainly for the treatment of chronic and slow-to-heal wounds.
  • Consumer wound care. This sector includes a wide range of wound care products, primarily for use in first aid. The consumer wound care market is not addressed in this report.

A company which develops expertise in engineering and manufacturing in one area of wound management will frequently leverage those skills by expanding into related areas of wound care. For this reason, a number of the leading wound management companies market products within most or all of these categories. When it comes to the advanced wound care products, wound management businesses may choose a strategy of partnering with specialist developers of these novel technologies. Such collaborations often lead to the larger firm acquiring the technology and/or the company that developed the technology, in order to bring the intellectual property in-house, as well as to optimize manufacturing and supply.

Global health care expenditure is expected to grow by at least 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2011 and 2020. The demographic changes driving this growth include the aging of the population, the continuing increase in new technologies commanding ever higher prices, and improved understanding of disease processes. This last leads to development of new procedures, products, and therapy regimens to treat disease, which feeds (at least in the USA) into an increasing desire on the part of patients to have the latest and greatest in treatment, no matter the cost to society. Chronic wounds are born out of vascular disease and insufficiency, and diabetic conditions. These are prevalent within the older populations that are showing strongest growth in the developed economies.

Wound management: A $21.8 billion+ worldwide market in 2021

The worldwide market for products in wound management, as reflected in the MedMarket Diligence report #S249, encompasses twelve discrete product segments:

  • Traditional Adhesive Dressings
  • Traditional Gauze Dressings
  • Non-Adherent Dressings
  • Film Dressings
  • Foam Dressings
  • Hydrogel Dressings
  • Hydrocolloid Dressings
  • Alginate Dressings
  • Antimicrobial Dressings
  • Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Devices
  • Bioengineered Skin and Skin Substitutes
  • Wound Care Growth Factors

These segments include traditional wound care products, like dressings and bandages, but also include their more evolved forms with embedded components or constructions to enhance wound healing by shortening healing times or improving outcomes. But, wound care has also evolved to included equipment/device-mediated care as in NPWT as well as biologically-derived or engineered products in regenerative medicine.

The MedMarket Diligence report details the current and forecast wound market by product type in North and South America, the European Union, Asia/Pacific and Rest of World, and looks at markets and growth rates by product and country for the years 2012-2021.

The world market in 2012 stood at approximately $12.45 billion. By 2021, the total wound management market represented by the segments listed above is projected to be worth over $21.85 billion million, reflecting a 2013-2021 CAGR over 7%.

wound-pie-2013

Source: Report #S249.

There are some market restraints at work, primarily the high cost of the new technologies. Not all country healthcare budgets can afford advanced wound care products, even if they are proven to decrease healing times and hospital costs over the longer run. The development of substitute products threatens existing product categories, while a lack of sufficient clinical and economic evidence backing new technology hinders growth and acceptance of some of the more advanced wound management technologies. In addition, improved wound prevention and a lack of regulation on tissue engineering in the EU are also expected to hold back the development of new technologies.

In addition to market restraints, there are a number of drivers that are expected to shape this market in the years to come. One of the primary drivers is the aging of the global population. Chronic diseases, such as circulatory conditions, anemias and autoimmune diseases influence the healing process as a result of their influence on a number of bodily functions. Illnesses that cause the most significant problems include diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), arteriosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), heart disease, and any conditions leading to hypotension, hypovolemia, edema, and anemia. While chronic diseases are more frequent in the elderly, wound healing will be delayed in any patient with underlying illness. Happily, most wounds heal without any problems. However, chronic wounds may take months or years to fully close, or may never close. Chronic wounds adversely affect the individual’s quality of life, and are a leading cause of burgeoning healthcare costs.

Type 2 diabetes represents 85-95% of all diabetes in developed countries, and accounts for an even higher percentage in developing countries. There were 26 million diabetic patients in the US in 2012 and 285 million patients globally.   Of these patients, approximately 15% will develop a diabetic foot ulcer and 50% of these will become infected, representing an estimated 2 million patients. Diabetic foot infections are currently treated with systemic antibiotics, but the estimated failure rate of antibiotics for diabetic foot ulcers is in excess of 22%.

A patient with diabetes is at significant risk of damage to tissues caused by impaired homeostasis due to the disease process. For example there is a tendency for such tissues to develop blockages in smaller blood vessels, which reduces the ability of these vessels to provide sufficient oxygen to tissues already under stress due to compromised nutrient supply and the diabetic condition. These patients then develop arterial ulcers. They may also have a tendency to suffer from venous ulcers, due to the underlying poor condition of cells as a result of the diabetes.

The diabetic foot is the most common cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the US and Europe: there is an average of 82,000 amputations per year in the U.S., costing an estimated $1.6 billion annually. The estimated cost of foot ulcer care in the U.S. ranges from $4,595 per ulcer episode to more than $28,000 and the total annual cost of foot ulcer care in the US has been estimated to be as high as $5 billion.

Pressure, or decubitus, ulcers are another of the most common types of chronic wounds. The treatment of pressure ulcers places a major burden on healthcare systems worldwide, with an emerging additional cost of litigation increasing in importance over recent years. Healthcare practitioners need to be aware of both the direct and indirect costs and consider how the implementation of prevention protocols may offer cost savings in the longer term. The cost of a dressing for example as a prevention tool is minimal in comparison to the costs of treating an established pressure ulcer.

Following are a few hard numbers on the true financial cost of pressure ulceration:

  • The estimated cost to the US hospital sector is $11 billion per annum
  • The estimated cost to the UK national health service is estimated at £1.4-£2.1 billion annually (4% of total NHS expenditure)
  • Lawsuits remain common in both acute and long term care — with high payments in certain cases
  • The average cost to treat an individual with an unstageable ulcer or a deep tissue injury is estimated to be $43,180
  • The average length of stay in hospital is almost three times longer for chronic wounds
  • The mean hospital cost for management of pressure ulcers in the U.S. is $14,426. In comparison, the same cost in Korea is identified as $3,000-$7,000.

The cost of treating chronic wounds is one element driving the development and utilization of advanced wound care technologies. Other drivers are the aging of the population, and the obesity epidemic, which is expected to produce a wave of diabetics in the years to come.

Worldwide Wound Management Market, Segment Size & Growth, 2013-2021

wound-bubbles-2013-2021

Source: Report #S249.

In 2009, four companies (Johnson and Johnson, Kinetic Concepts Inc., Hill-Rom and Smith & Nephew) were responsible for about 60 percent of total market revenue. However, mergers, acquisitions and sales of intellectual property have rapidly changed the market share picture. By the end of 2012, more than half of the global wound care market was held by Johnson and Johnson, 3M, Smith & Nephew, and Systagenix. In addition, competition on price has driven down prices in the well established (i.e., traditional wound care) markets, while novel technologies are taking hold with introductory revenues and generating high, early stage growth rates.


For the complete analysis of the worldwide wound management market, see “Wound Management, Worldwide Market and Forecast to 2021: Established and Emerging Products, Technologies and Markets in the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Rest of World” (Report #S249).