Haemostatix Ltd, a spin-out from the University of Leicester, was co-founded in 2003 by Sarah Middleton and Alison Goodall (Professor of Thrombosis and Haemostasis) to commercialise a new scientific approach to enhance blood clotting. Haemostatix is developing therapies to promote haemostasis in patients with platelet deficiency, such as those being treated for leukaemia. Lead product, HaemoPlax, is a synthetic platelet substitute which solves the problem of short shelf life and eliminates the risk of contamination associated with the use of donor platelets. In HaemoPlax microparticles are used to present a proprietary fibrinogen-binding peptide which interacts with circulating fibrinogen to form a bridge between activated platelets, thus encouraging the formation of an effective thrombus.
The Department has an established track record of working with industry, not only through involvement in clinical trials but also through support for investigator initiated projects, funded through grants-in-aid, fellowships and intellectual property licensing agreements. Major current areas of interactions include new strategies in device therapy (stents, defibrillators, pacing and valves), discovery of biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of cardiac disease and drug therapy for treatment of hypertension and prevention of diabetes.
Specific examples include three separate clinical electrophysiology research fellowships on projects involving risk stratification in sudden death, catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation and biventricular pacing in heart failure, and developmental work on biomarkers for heart failure (Unipath PLC, now part of Inverness Medical Innovations Inc.). We have also submitted joint patents in partnership with BRAHMS AG (Berlin) on biomarkers in acute coronary syndrome. Our collaboration with R&D in industry extends to often being the centre of choice for early clinical trialling in patients of innovative cardiovascular devices. This includes five “firsts” in the UK (brachytherapy, drug eluting stents, TORNUS catheters, intra-myocardial stem cell implantation, percutaneous aortic valves) in the last few years.
Ongoing collaborations centre on trialling new therapies and conducting proof of concept/principle studies. These include, for example, stem cell studies with Bioheart, the Reitan Catheter Pump project and Optical Coherence Tomography studies with KiwiMed and the drug eluting balloon project with Abbott Vascular.
Working in collaboration with Healthstats, Singapore, we have developed, physiologically tested and clinically validated novel mathematical models to accurately and non-invasively derive central aortic pressures from the radial artery pulse wave. Incorporation of this methodology into static and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring devices has received fast track approval by the U.S. FDA for clinical use. The technology is being deployed in clinical studies in the BRU and world-wide, and also by Pharma, to gain novel mechanistic insights into drug effects on circulatory pressures and haemodynamics, providing a template for development and testing of novel interventions.