Week 8 – Making It Work
Before I get started, we are kicking around the idea of doing a social media live chat in the near future to answer any questions that people may have regarding the technology, what we working on, what our future plans are, what is our favorite device, etc. Any questions you might have that we can answer without giving away trade secrets or infringing on our customer’s proprietary research will be open. We would like to hear your thoughts. We have a very simple survey on the home page and on the news page! Please weigh in with your opinion. Two clicks! That’s it! Easy Peasy! We promise any surveys we do now or in the future are for our use only and will remain simple. It is our way to get your input. This is not big brother looking for information.
My wife Tina and I are big fans of Project Runway (for those of you who have not seen the show – we strongly recommend it). I know, you are thinking you are here for medical devices and that I have really lost it this week, but hear me out before you decide to go elsewhere with your time. We are always amazed that these talented folks (some more so than others) can get a challenge, sketch something on paper within 30 minutes, chose the components for the garment from hundreds and hundreds of potential parts, edit the design along the way when things don’t look or go right and end up with a piece of wearable clothing ready for the runway. Contestants do this all while working under budget constraints. Tim Gunn, one of the show’s former hosts (Christian Siriano is now the host and doing a great job), used to tell the contestants to “make it work” when they were struggling with a concept or trying to execute on a difficult design. Simple advice but those three little words really are applicable to what we do on so many levels. We in the medical device space tend to live by this mantra without really realizing it. Don’t believe me? Let me show you.
Our NuSpun vascular graft is a prime example of executing to “make it work.” When we first started with the device, what we knew (our challenge) is that there are a lot of people afflicted with kidney and peripheral artery disease. These patients need a device that can be attached to an artery/vein (typically by sewing), that the device has to be compatible with the body (body cannot reject it like it would a splinter/sliver that you get in your finger), that the device has to allow blood to flow through it, the device has to be flexible/durable, can be implanted by trained surgeons and, if used for patients with kidney disease, has to be able to be punctured in two areas three times a week for the life of the patient. This list of needed features, while it may seem simple, is daunting. After some in-depth analysis (we had more than 30 minutes), we formed a game plan on what materials we were going to use and began designing our graft using our electrospinning technology. This design process took several years to develop since we had so many requirements to incorporate as well as work under budget constraints. When we were not successful, we went back to the drawing board and “edited” our design. We believe that we have made a graft with all of the properties we are looking to achieve. Our “runway show” is evaluating this graft under a lot of stringent testing. If the NuSpun graft passes these tests, the ultimate “winners” will be the many people that will be helped (a little more dramatic ending than Project Runway).
The real stars of “our show” are the surgeons. I have been in this space for over 29 years and I am still in awe of what they do. As one of the Penguins of Madagascar said, “It never gets old.” (I have kids so this is quote is allowed). I wanted to share with you what these talented folks do on a daily basis. They use a technique as old as time, sewing, to attach a graft to a blood vessel (this connection is called an anastomosis in case you land on Jeopardy). The precision to run the suture through the material and match that to the location on the blood vessel wall with the goal of keeping the connection between the two open so blood can flow through it is purely amazing. On top of that, these sutures have to be placed just right or blood can leak through the connection. The picture I have included is our surgeons attaching our NuSpun vascular graft to an artery. It is really a work of art! This is also another way we are like Project Runway. Our surgeons are talented seamsters! We are appreciative of all of their hard work and belief in this technology. We could not do it without them.
Have a great weekend!