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Local inventor of stent improving his design
October 15, 2008

By Travis E. Poling Express-News

Dr. Julio Palmaz, the man best known for inventing the revolutionary cardiovascular stent in San Antonio, has launched a company to develop a new generation of the life-saving device.

Palmaz Scientific Inc. will be a Dallas-based company headed by Palmaz, CEO Steve Solomon and San Antonio bioscience executive Chris Banas. Legendary restaurateur Phil Romano of Macaroni Grill and Rudy's fame is a major investor.

Palmaz developed the initial technology for the stent — called the Palmaz stent — which shores up the walls of the artery after an angioplasty to prevent a collapse and blockage of the artery again. The 1988 development at the University of Texas Health Science Center changed the way clogged vessels were treated and became the basis for a multibillion industry.

The new stent technology was something Palmaz began working on at the university about 10 years ago, along with health care products giant Johnson & Johnson. Palmaz Scientific was formed to reacquire the license from J&J for development and manufacturing.

Palmaz said the new stent, dubbed the Sesame stent, have a special microscopic mesh coating that helps reduce the effect of impurities in the metal tube. That means better outcomes for the patient.

“I wanted to go back and start making the stent the right way,” Palmaz said.

The stent with its thin film covering will be made in a research and development lab in Fremont, Calif., but Solomon said manufacturing eventually could move to San Antonio.

The company first will tackle the European market in 2009 before seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell the device domestically.

Solomon said the improvements will result in faster healing from cell regeneration and less chance of clotting than with the original stents.

The company will begin with the widely accepted cardiovascular application of the stent, but the technology also can be used in orthopedics and cosmetic surgery such as breast implants and rhinoplasty, Solomon said.

Even though there won't be an immediate economic impact on San Antonio from the new company, UTHSC has made millions of dollars in royalties off the original technology and would benefit from Sesame stent sales, said Brian Herman, vice president for research at the university.

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