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By David Saleh Rauf - San Antonio Express-News
Texas is investing $3 million in a Dallas-based medical device company created by Dr. Julio Palmaz, a former University of Texas Health Science Center professor best known as the inventor of a revolutionary cardiovascular stent, officials said Thursday.
Palmaz Scientific Inc. will use a portion of the money to help secure approval in the European market of its Sesame stent, which has a special microscopic mesh coating that helps reduce the effect of impurities in the metal tube. The state funds also will be devoted to buying equipment and hiring engineers to spur the development of next-generation stents, said Steven Solomon, CEO of Palmaz Scientific.
When it was launched in 2008 to develop stents, Palmaz Scientific received investment money from restaurateur Phil Romano of Macaroni Grill and Rudy's fame. The state's investment announced Thursday will help the company expand its operations and add about 50 employees to its Texas payroll over the next three to five years, Solomon said.
Those jobs, a mix of development and manufacturing positions, will be based in Dallas and San Antonio. The company plans to open a manufacturing facility in the Alamo City as new stents reach the marketplace, Solomon said.
“We're looking at facilities right now,” he said.
The Emerging Technology Fund investments are designed to help start-up companies get their technology out of the lab and into the marketplace. The investments also give the state an equity position in the start-ups.
“This ETF investment will create jobs in San Antonio and the economic impact of the funding will be amplified,” said House Speaker Joe Straus, who made the announcement along with local officials. “It's a win for both San Antonio and the state of Texas.”
The San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative and the South Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization worked with Palmaz Scientific to help secure the state funding.
The initial technology for the stent was developed by Palmaz in 1988 at UTHSC. Dubbed the Palmaz stent, it helps prevent a collapse and blockage of the artery after an angioplasty and spawned a multibillion-dollar industry in changing the way clogged blood vessels were treated.
UTHSC has made millions of dollars in royalties off the original technology and will continue to benefit from the company's future success, Solomon said.
The next generation of stents being developed by Palmaz Scientific will go beyond cardiovascular applications and include stents that treat kidney problems and aneurysms, Solomon said.
Express-News archives contributed to this report.