Nicast’s New Application of an Old Technology




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Video title: Nicast’s New Application of an Old Technology
Released on: March 17, 2009. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this interview Jacob Dagan, Chairman of the Board of Nicast, talks Fintan Walton through the company’s unique application of electrospinning. This technology was first discovered sixty years ago and Nicast has taken it on to create specific materials that can fill unmet medical needs. With the help of an animated video, Mr. Dagan describes exactly how the materials can be used to the benefit of the patient. Nicast plans to develop these products and only partner them at a late stage for help with marketing and commercialisation.
Founding of Nicast and its technology.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures business review here in San Francisco. On this show I have Jacob Dagan who is the chairman of a company called Nicast which is based in Israel. Welcome to the show.
Jacob Dagan:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Jacob Dagan you head up a company which is a medical device company that's the one we are describing it. It's got some very unique technology which has potential applications in a wide range of medical uses. First of all just tell us what the basis of the company is and the technology and how it was founded.
Jacob Dagan:
Okay. We are using a technology that is called electrospinning. It's of quite an old technology was discovered some sixty years ago in this country and it was really put into use by the Russians later and they used it for manufacturing of different materials specially for welfare and production of different kinds of filters that would stop the movement of different or transfer of different agents. Some sixteen seventeen years ago an immigrant from Russia Dr. Alex Dobson came to Israel. It was a very deep knowledge of this technology and he came with the notion that he would like to start a business where he would develop a filter material for vapor filters you know those filters which are used in the pharmaceutical industry and got funded by the chief scientists in Israel and for two years and developed the machine quite a big machine that can produce filters and then the project went into they re-evolved they had to build a machine that can develop and manufacture this in big quantities, realized that building such a machine that can really supply the needs of the market the price of the machine is around $25 million dollars. We are talking about big machines
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Jacob Dagan:
And then the board that time realized that the y cannot raise this amount of money for start up and they said okay lets go into medicine and seeing with smaller machine and we will be able to produce stuff that they return on investment will be much faster and for around ten years the company was struggling developing different methodologies, the machinery was developed and really got into a level of have a robotic machine that you could everything is computer controlled very sophisticated and getting all of the experience and know how that Dr. Dobson brought us was then into a software that controlled the machine and around three years ago I have been asked by the board to join as an active chairman to move the idea into real products into the market.
Electrospinning procedure
Fintan Walton:
Right and now just to a sort of key component to this is the Electrospinning. so how does electrospinning work and what is that actually produced?
Jacob Dagan:
In Electrospinning what you do you take polymers you can take a whole array of polymers then you collect is that you need to be able to use them in the electrospinning process is that they can be dissolved in a dissolving solution usually it is organic solvents. It's room temperature because you want to work it at room temperature. Now you have now a liquid that has in it the dissolved polymer and you inject this liquid into a very strong electrical field and what happens there is as soon as this liquid gets out through the injectors into the presence of this electrical field you are getting a very strong expansion of the liquid causing a change in the surface tension which evaporates the liquid part in room temperature and what you are left now is this the charged pure polymer that is continuing to be extruded or expanded in this very strong electrical field and finally depending on the strengths of the field, the lengths of the in the temperatures throws up many parameters that we control there you can get fibers at the diameter of nanometers so that's a nanometer technology at the end.
Fintan Walton:
So it's a nanotechnology?
Jacob Dagan:
It's a nanotechnology and depending on the collecting electrode the shape of it you can coat or shape different collecting electrodes to the shape that you want. For example if you want to have a tube you put at the end collecting electrode a mandrel a raw mandrel which rotates around it's axis and this collects the fibers on it and finally you end up with a tube.
AVflo technology demo and its competitions.
Fintan Walton:
Amazing. So okay that's the basis the basic fundamentals to the technology that allows you then to create materials which are quite unique, have unique properties and now you are adapting that technology or that that those materials to specific products that can be used in medicines so tell us about the product one of the key products that you have developed is AVflo. Tell us aboutAVflo?
Jacob Dagan:
What happens is in the knowhow that was put into this whole technology what we possess today is a control of over thirty parameters in the manufacturing process. So we can repeatedly come back and by a press of one button create the same product with same QA, QC on the final product. The first product that we developed was a tube that mimics the human artery.
Fintan Walton:
And you have kindly brought along a video of how that actually works so let's just have a look at the video.
Jacob Dagan:
This tube has a as I said it mimics the human arteries and if you take a look on the structure of a human blood vessel and you do a electron microscope on it you will get finally to the building scaffold which is collagen fibers that are in the nanometer diameter and they in a structure which is non woven and this we mimic exactly the same using in our case was the tube using polyurethane which is a biocompatible material and we can create something which behaves physically exactly like a human artery.
Fintan Walton:
So that's that video clearly shows us how the AVflo works. So where does it actually place? Where does it place AVflo in relation to the competition?
Jacob Dagan:
The AVflo has an answer to all of the problems we have today with the AV-shunts that are available in the market. They cause lot of problems of not Blood Coagulating into them in them. They we have problems with when you puncture them with a needle you create a hole that you have to clot is a blood clot by pressing on the on those tubes which can cause additional problems during surgery it's very difficult to sutures them you have to wait for thirty forty minutes that blood would coagulates around the sutures so all of those problems are resolved and we can and what's most important from all those advantages that this one has is that you can take the patient (indiscernable) after surgery into the dialysis subject and start dialysis. This tube has a as I said it mimics the human arteries and if you take a look on the structure of a human blood vessel and you do an electron microscope on it you will get finally to the building scaffold which is collagen fibers that are there in the nanometer diameter and they in a structure which is non woven and this we mimic exactly the same using and in our case was the was the tube we are using polyurethane which is a biocompatible material and we can create something which behaves physically exactly like a human artery.
Fintan Walton:
Right and that well we have seen that how that behaves in the video there?
Jacob Dagan:
Yeah.
AVflo fulfilling the unmet clinical needs.
Fintan Walton:
So obviously that's that really places your technology right into space where it can satisfy unmet clinical need because those -?
Jacob Dagan:
Those are unmet clinical need in the dialysis for the dialysis patient but the dialysis patient in the beginning when they start out isn't talking about the chronically ill patient where the kidney's really stopped functioning and they have to get with two to three dialysis procedures per week and the way to do it is you put a needle into an artery a needle into a vein and you take out the blood get it through the dialysis machine and back into the human body. What this puncturing continuous puncturing of two three times a week is causing each time an injury to those blood vessels and two three years down the line you've there is no place to puncture anymore and you turn to the second hand when you finish with that you have to do the patient if the patient didn't get to a kidney transplant you have to continue dialyzing and so the first thing that they would do is do what's called the fistula and natural fistula they take the artery and a vein would connect them together surgically with a hole between them let it heal for a period of time so that a fistula which is kind of bowel tissue would be created between the two blood vessels and into this fistula you can push in needles and continue dialysis. Problem with fistulas is sixty percent of them stop functioning after you did the procedure and then those patients need to have some kind of an artificial tube to connect the vein to an artery so that you can continue with doing it. The tubes that are available today and usually they are made from Teflon or Dacron those are materials that are polymers but when you puncture them with a needle you puncture hole so when you get the patient to dialysis each time after the four hours of dialysis you have to sit down on the patient for thirty forty minutes pressing on the side where the needle was to cause a coagulation that would stop this or plug this hole in the tube with this artificial tube. With our fiber with our structure we don't need it at all because we behave exactly like the human collagen. we put in a needle the needle would get through those tiny nanometric fibers when you get it out they close and there was no bleeding.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Jacob Dagan:
It's so it's very easy for during dialysis so after dialysis. It's also easy very easy during the surgery because when you set those tubes you connect them by suturing. we don't have any bleeding after the surgery suturing because is a regular plastic tubes that you use like Teflon. you have oozing of blood around the sutures because the needle is bigger than the sutures in diameter. So we have the solution of that and because of all of that we can take this patient twenty four hours after surgery immediately to dialysis not waiting till six to nine weeks that usually is the wait and have to go through dialysis by putting catheter into their neck arteries and veins so it's a whole solution that makes this whole effect matches it.
Fintan Walton:
And matching cost benefits as well to the patient to the
Jacob Dagan:
To the whole system because you don't have to use catheter, catheter of course in infections and it's uncomfortable, it's painful, the patient doesn't like it. You will do the finished surgery and�
Fintan Walton:
So sorts of one it's once in a lifetime hopefully intervention?
Jacob Dagan:
It's not once in a lifetime because this would also I don't think that this is would be forever. It's like the human blood vessels probably would after puncturing for many times would have destroyed as this one we will have to replace it. We hope that would take the same time it takes a human artery and vein to be replaced or repaired that would take this out.
Ventral Hernia repair patch and its application
Fintan Walton:
Let's just move on to the next product because that product is again using the same sort of material but here we have a different application so could you take us through the hernia-patch product?
Jacob Dagan:
The hernia-patch product is a is addressing a very strong need in this market. We took the first product the Ventral Hernia repair patch. Ventralhernia is a hernia that is created in the abdominal wall after surgery and to in many cases you have the site where the cut was sutured it's weakened and there is a going to be a protrusion which is the hernia of the (indiscernable) structure through the thin skin and it's unhealthy it causes pain it's - doesn't look so nice so they you have repair it. They are repaired today is to (indiscernable) and with a piece of material a patch we try to put it between intestines and the abdominal wall but it has to have two kinds of surfaces. You want on one side to have a surface which is very glossy shiny so it would repel the viscera which is the coating of the intestine on the other side you want it to be very coarse so that the tissue of the abdominal wall would grow into it and would that hear and then it would give it the strengths of this material that we had put in. The materials that are available on the market, very expensive they don't do it.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So you have here --?
Jacob Dagan:
So what we did we developed a material that is made from the same material that we do the tubes for the AVflo and it's polyurethane again. It's on the one side it's very shiny after that we can see it on the with the camera and you know the other side is very coarse and we put it in through a laparoscope and we can bend that we can role it like that and when it is rolled you can this way and through a laparoscope you can put it in. what's nice with this material it has a memory that when it's in the cavity it would open by itself while what's available today with few roles that one of the material that's available today they don't open.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Jacob Dagan:
They get stuck and then you have to put in two additional laparoscopes to stretch it open. So it has a lot of advantages very strong material we can stretch it.
Fintan Walton:
I presume the electrospinning technology allows you to have the two different layers the two different surfaces?
Jacob Dagan:
In one shot in one shot we don't have to take two. To see what's available put on the market is they take two different materials they glue them together and this gluing is really impairing on the quality of the material and the rolling of that is done. Here everything is made from exactly the same material it's simply a change in parameters and as I told you in the beginning we develop the machineries. It's so sophisticated that the machine in one shot gloss it does.
Fintan Walton:
Okay.
Jacob Dagan:
One side so glossy than the other side done.
Fintan Walton:
Excellent. Now obviously this material and it can be used for an even more applications?
Jacob Dagan:
Right.
Fintan Walton:
So may be Jacob Dagan just give us some very briefly some idea of what the other applications are?
Jacob Dagan:
This can be used in for example in the vascular surgery when you open the different arteries and the for (indiscernable) to clean them up and when you when you close them you have to put a small patch so we have a solution for a patch to put into the different arteries. We can use it a patch a for prolapse a female prolapse in continents because we can control exactly what is needed for each one of those applications. We can see we see in it probably in the future solution also for the regular hernias where you can use very simple materials but this would be much better materials and we are working today on getting into it also into the structure some biological materials that you would regenerate it would have better adherence to the abdominal also. We are we are planning to add collagens and science but this is futuristic.
Nicast future plans to develop the products and market worldwide through partners.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Now just in terms of the company itself the company as we say is based in Israel it's been funded by presumably by venture capital private equity backing and what's your business model? you are gonna take this all the way through market yourself I mean haven't distributed or you looking for partners ? what is your next action?
Jacob Dagan:
What we are looking for each one let me state a little bit differently. The company has around today more than twenty patents. The first five are patents we own the technology and the machinery and so on. The rest are patents of applications and products final products and we have products from those tubes for AVflo and the and these vascular grafts we have patents for the flat surface materials which would be the patches and so on. You can we have patents on stents.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Jacob Dagan:
We have developed a material that is a polymer that when you stretch and was a balloon like a regular stent it would open and stay at this dimension and we have materials that are mimicking the spinal space between the vertebrae and we can replace the material there. We have materials that can act as the as deliverers of drugs. We can loop drugs into different structures and we talk about drugs of anti cancerous drugs and --.
Fintan Walton:
Sure.
Jacob Dagan:
Drugs that kind.
Fintan Walton:
But in the end Jacob who, how are you gonna take these products?
Jacob Dagan:
Okay yes.
Fintan Walton:
You obviously got a portfolio potential option?
Jacob Dagan:
So there was long portfolio of applications. The idea is that we would develop each one of them as a final product, get it through the different regulatory phases, the clinical studies and then find a company that would be strategic partner that would take it off our hands and market it worldwide.
Fintan Walton:
Well thank you very much indeed Jacob Dagan for coming on the show. Thank you.
Jacob Dagan:
Thank you. Thank you for having me here.
Jacob Dagan
Chairman of the Board
Dr. Jacob Dagan, Chairman of the Board of Nicast, has more than 20 years experience in a wide range of medical device industries, and is the founder of numerous medical device companies launched in the US. Dr. Jacob Dagan earned a DSc & Eng. in biomedical engineering from Columbia University, New York.
Nicast
Nicast Ltd. is a pioneer in the development of implantable medical devices made of electrospun polymer nanofabrics for a wide range of applications. The company's first two products, the AVflo vascular access graft and NovaMesh demonstrate the versatility of electrospun nanofabric as a biomaterial from which medical devices with superior properties can be made. The AVflo is intended for patients with end stage renal failure (kidney failure) who must undergo hemodialysis treatment. The NovaMesh is intended to repair ventral(abdominal)hernias. These products address a combined global market of $0.7 billion to $1 billion. Nicast has long identified the significant potential of electrospinning technology and biomaterials and has been working to apply this technology to a wide range of medical applications. Nicast has six patents in the US, nine patents outside of the US and 14 additional patents pending.