Hope all is going well. April has been one of those months for me that has been busy but not as productive as you want it to be. Unfortunately, after avoiding COVID for several years, Tina and I tested positive at the beginning of the month within days of each other. It started out feeling like a cold but we figured we would test. People have asked me where did I think we got it from and my response is always “no idea.” Everything is so wide open now and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. It did hit us pretty good but fortunately we are both vaccinated and boosted, so I think that took some of the more aggressive bite out of it. Still, I think of people that want to get it to get some immunity to the virus. I can tell you from our experience, it is hanging around and we are almost at the end of the month. No major symptoms at this point, but still not perfect. I think that will take some time. Tina and I both said we are so lucky to have access to healthcare and thankful for the great scientists that helped us treat this virus. We could not help to think of the people that got COVID early on where there were no treatments. Sadly, there was such a high number of deaths during that time period. I hope that we will be better prepared for this type of pandemic down the road. Unfortunately, I do believe that this is not the last one.
With the advancement in video calls, my schedule did not slow down. Sort of a blessing and a curse. I am not looking for sympathy as I am my own worst enemy. Tina tells me this all of the time. I think the problem I am having is that we have so many balls in the air and more continue to be added without taking any of the others out of play, for good or for bad. I feel like finalizing things ranging from data, to discussions to potential agreements is just DRAGGING. It could be what is going on in the world such as fears about the economy putting a slowdown on all decision-making processes. Sadly, many life science and pharma companies are either closing or laying people off. This is not a good sign. Unfortunately, many people view science as just something that is done in school and is really not that important until it is (case in point – COVID). It is hard to understand and making money in this field is risky because biology is not always predictable. You can see how to make money selling pizza, clothes or a car, but science-related products are not as clear cut so investors and private capital tends to get nervous and look for home runs. I like to call it high-stakes gambling. Looking for the next billion-dollar blockbuster instead of investing in areas that are needed but may not make the huge returns. What ends up happening is so many areas are left behind such as the next drug for the next pandemic or even something as simple as an artificial artery.
This takes me to the title of this week’s blog. Most people have heard the old saying that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The above example of people not investing in science until it is needed (and might one day be too late) is one example of this. The artificial artery is another example of the truth behind this saying. For almost 70 years, the artificial artery which is used to bypass a diseased artery or used as an access point for patients requiring hemodialysis, has not really changed. Yes, there have been some tweaks to these devices over the years, but for the most part, nothing that has positively affected the success rate when these devices are used. These devices fail because of one main reason – the body does not accept them as “self.” The current textile materials that make up these artificial arteries do not allow the body’s cells to grow into the device and heal it, resulting in several different issues such as blood clotting, infection and uncontrolled growth at the point where the artificial artery and patient’s artery are connected.
Many of the attempts to improve current devices have always focused on short-term fixes but getting these devices to truly heal has not occurred. There is 70 years of history but the same graft attempts are still being used. A lot of history but nothing has truly been learned. You have heard me discuss our NuSpun™ Vascular Graft in previous blogs. Our graft looks to change some of the same old approaches to vascular grafts. We wanted to keep all of the benefits of current vascular grafts such as long-term strength, good handling/suturability, ability to hold flowing blood and excellent shelf storage stability. However, history has shown that without healing, all of the same complications will still be present. Our electrospun material provides these good bulk properties while allowing the body to heal the device. BioSurfaces has continued to face headwinds developing the NuSpun™ vascular graft. Some companies that we would like to partner with are happy staying with status quo because they are making money on their current device even if it doesn’t work great. We have even looked to submit grants to further develop our graft, which has not been successful. One reviewer commented, “although an improvement, the proposed graft is not a breakthrough that will change the vascular access landscape.” In this case, we are having to overcome the poor history of current grafts even when the person sees that this could be an improvement. Sometimes, I ask myself if we should give up on our NuSpun™ vascular graft based on the constant headwinds we face based on a history of current devices that fail, which would follow the advice given from the old saying. But then I see that there are still people that need this device for access and bypass. I am stubborn and believe that helping just one person would be huge. It is time to see if we can change history.
Next Wednesday April 26th, we will have a special webcast celebrating our 20th anniversary. We are excited to share our journey with you. It has not always been smooth sailing but anything worth doing is never easy. We will then be back into our usual schedule with Factual Friday on May 5th, Monthly Spin-Off on May 12th, Factual Friday on May 19th and our next blog on May 26th. We are also hoping to have an announcement or two next month so stay tuned for that.