By David Hendricks, San Antonio Express-News Photo: Fotolia / The economic impact of San Antonio's healthcare ...
Members of the U.K. life sciences industry delegation don dark glasses to view 3-D digital anatomy images ...
San Antonio’s science-rich atmosphere has spawned a variety of biomedical enterprises. Among them are several major, established companies with marketed pharmaceutical products or medical devices, as well as a leading contract development and manufacturing organization. The city is also home to a growing number of emerging startup firms developing product pipelines for future commercialization.
San Antonio Industry Leaders
A pioneer of San Antonio’s bioscience sector, DPT Laboratories, Ltd., a DFB Pharmaceuticals company, is a contract development and manufacturing organization, offering full-service sourcing solutions for the world’s leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology and healthcare companies. The privately-held firm, which dates back more than 70 years, specializes in semi-solid and liquid dosage forms. San Antonio is home to two of its three Centers of Excellence, including its Semi-Solids and Liquids manufacturing center, focused both on prescription and over-the-counter products, and its Research & Development center. Aseptic manufacturing services are provided at its Center of Excellence for Sterile & Specialty Products in Lakewood, NJ.
Acelity is a world leader in advanced wound care and regenerative medicine and was created by uniting the strengths of three companies, Kinetic Concepts, Inc. (KCI), LifeCell Corporation and Systagenix Wound Management, Limited. The company’s beginnings started in 1976 in a 1-bedroom apartment in San Antonio, TX, by an emergency room physician who saw the value of kinetic therapy in dealing with spinal cord injuries, multiple trauma and severe pulmonary condition. Today, Acelity improves the lives of patients in more than 80 countries and employs 5,800 people around the globe with 1,500 employees in San Antonio. Acelity is the undisputed leader in negative pressure wound therapy, the number one provider of regenerative tissue products used for breast reconstruction and hernia repair and the market leader in collagen dressings.
Privately-held Mission Pharmacal has operated in San Antonio for more than 50 years. The founding Walsdorf family is now in its third generation. Marketed products include Tindamax®, approved for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection among women of childbearing age in the United States, as well as Citracal® vitamin supplements.
Since 2004, San Antonio has also been home to a division of Genzyme, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, which was acquired by Sanofi in 2011. The San Antonio division focuses on developing and commercializing novel treatments for patients with cancer and multiple sclerosis. Marketed products include leukemia drugs, Campath® and Clolar®.
And in 2009, medical technology giant Medtronic, Inc. chose San Antonio over more than 900 other US urban areas for its new Diabetes Therapy Management & Education Center. The operation, which will employ 1,400 people when fully staffed, supports users of Medtronic insulin pumps around the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week in multiple languages. The San Antonio facility includes a fully licensed pharmacy and performs a variety of functions including sales, customer service, patient and physician training, technical services, consumer marketing, and employee leadership development.
Emerging Pharmaceutical Companies
Cancer drug development is one of the core competencies of San Antonio’s bioscience sector and the therapeutic focus for several emerging companies.
Azaya Therapeutics, recognized as one of the Most Promising Life Science Technology Companies by The Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship, is applying its protein-stabilized liposome (PSL) platform technology to extend the life of standard-of-care chemotherapy drugs with new formulations that could make them more effective. The company’s lead product, ATI-1123, a liposomal formulation of docetaxel, is currently in Phase I trials.
BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is focused on discovery, development and commercialization of novel drugs for the treatment of cancer and cancer supportive care. It currently has two drug candidates, Karenitecin (BNP 1350) and Tavocept, in late-stage clinical development.
Evestra, Inc. seeks to improve the health and wellness of women around the world through innovative technologies and commercially viable products focused primarily on fertility control, gynecological disorders, and oncology. The company, a spinoff of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, performs discovery and synthesis of novel steroid compounds. Its lead product is a novel estrogen, currently in preclinical testing.
GenSpera, Inc. (OTCBB: GNSZ) is a development stage oncology company focused on therapeutics which deliver a potent, unique, patented drug directly to tumors. Its technology platform combines a powerful, plant-derived cytotoxin with a prodrug delivery system. Its lead product, G-202, is currently in Phase I trials.
In addition to cancer, companies within San Antonio’s life sciences sector are focused on developing drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for a variety of other therapeutic areas.
Biomedical Development Corporation is commercializing a portfolio of pharmaceuticals to decrease bacterial bio-burden in the mouth, reduce chronic inflammation, and subsequently improve systemic health. The company has two drugs in Phase 2 clinical trials.
Pronucleotein Biotechnologies LLC, is developing aptamer-based, handheld diagnostic assays to eliminate culture enrichment for real-time, rapid testing for food and water safety and homeland security applications. The company’s sensor devices include a handheld reader that targets pathogens including e. coli, salmonella, listeria, and campylobacter for food safety testing.
ViroXis Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative, proprietary, botanical pharmaceuticals derived from East Indian Sandalwood oil. Its lead product is currently in Phase II trials for topical treatment of the human papilloma virus (HPV) or common skin warts. ViroXis received the prestigious Michael DeBakey Award at the Texas Life Science Conference in 2009 as the emerging company most likely to commercialize an important medical product.
Emerging Medical Technology Firms
San Antonio has a track record of developing life- and limb-saving medical devices, such as the Palmaz® Stent, the first commercially successful intravascular stent, named one of “Ten Patents that Changed the World” by IP Worldwide magazine. This tradition of innovation is being carried on by a number of homegrown medical technology firms.
In addition, San Antonio was selected in 2010 as the first expansion site outside California for InCube Labs, a life sciences research laboratory focused on developing medical breakthroughs to dramatically improve patient outcomes. InCube opened its San Antonio incubator facility in 2011 and is relocating three startup companies from the Silicon Valley: Corythm Inc., Neurolink Inc., and Fe3 Medical, Inc.
Based at the Texas Research Park, BioMedical Enterprises (BME) is focused on developing, manufacturing, and marketing minimally invasive orthopaedic instrumentation and implants that elicit a biologic response. Since its inception in 1991, BME has applied its understanding of bone healing to the development of products to treat musculoskeletal disorders.
Bone Bank Allografts distributes the SteriGraft™ line of high quality bone and soft tissue allografts to medical professionals. In its more than 13 years of operation, the company has helped doctors and their patients with over 100,000 successful transplantations.
ENTrigue Surgical, Inc., is a medical technology firm focused on harnessing breakthroughs in biotechnology and instrument design to develop novel, yet sensible solutions for the ear, nose, and throat operating room and office. The company’s initial focus is on enhancing surgical access for increased functionality and precision. It is also developing a unique class of proven bioabsorbable and biologic implants designed to simplify surgical procedures and improve healing.
Electrochemical Oxygen Concepts, Inc. (EO² Concepts™) is an innovative wound care company whose first product, the TransCu O²™ device, is a unique, non-invasive, electrochemical tissue oxygenation system intended for use with lower-cost, moist wound dressings for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, venous leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, and other skin wounds. The goal is to continuously supply pure oxygen to an oxygen-compromised wound to aid healing while maintaining a moist environment, sustaining patient mobility, and significantly reducing costs.
Ovna Medical Inc.'s mission is to improve human health by offering technologies that provide real-time detection and diagnostics of certain cancers and heart disease. The core technology utilizes a fiber optic spectroscopy device for real-time diagnostics and monitoring. The company’s devices are designed to save costs, improve medical care, and help save lives through earlier detection.
Paragonix Technologies, LP is commercializing single-use and highly portable organ preservation and transport devices for transplant organs. The company seeks to improve the quality of life for patients receiving transplants, to increase the number of organs available for transplantation, and to reduce deaths of patients on waiting lists.
Respiratory Motion Inc. develops and commercializes innovative devices to monitor respiratory variation. Currently, there is no device in the hospital that effectively monitors breathing adequacy. The company’s lead device, the ExSpiron™, is designed to be the first non-invasive, point-of-care monitoring system for this purpose.
Rochal Industries is a privately owned bioscience research company focused on the development of new polymeric materials for wound and burn care treatment. Rochal licenses its intellectual property to companies capable of commercializing the resulting products.
Seno Medical Instruments Inc. is focused on the early detection of cancer through the use of its patented, opto-acoustic imaging technology which combines light and sound to produce high-resolution, high-contrast images to indicate the presence of increased blood supply and vascular structure that surround and feed a tumor. Seno’s first clinical application is for breast cancer diagnosis. The company’s technology also has applications for cardiovascular, stroke, and inflammatory disease.
San Antonio-based Vidacare is the leading developer, manufacturer, and marketer of advanced intraosseous technology which offers the potential to establish new standards of clinical excellence in the safe, rapid performance of medical procedures using the intraosseous space. The Wall Street Journal named Vidacare's EZ-IO Vascular Access System its sole Technology Innovation of the Year Gold Award recipient in 2008. Vidacare products are marketed in over 50 countries worldwide.
In addition to these locally based pharmaceutical and medical device companies, San Antonio is home to Conceptual MindWorks, Inc., a biotechnology and software engineering company with core competencies in biological research, bioinformatics, modeling, and simulation. CMI also markets an Electronic Health Record called Sevocity™.