MD&M WEST: FIRST-TIME EXHIBITORS
The rise of organic and natural food products in recent years represents a growing mind-set in which people are becoming increasingly wary of introducing unnatural products into their bodies. Driven by the related idea that natural materials likely interact better with the body than unnatural ones, Biocoat Inc. (Horsham, PA) has applied this concept to medical device coatings. The company maintains that it provides the only hydrophilic medical device coating based on the naturally occurring substance hyaluronic acid.
Although incorporated in 1991, Biocoat’s technology dates back to the early 1980s when Ellington Beavers, PhD, and his Columbia University cohorts focused on immobilizing hyaluronan and other biopolymers for use in medical applications. A naturally occurring polysaccharide, hyaluronic acid serves as a lubricant in many of the body’s tissues. This status as one of the most common polysaccharides in the body establishes hyaluronic acid as an ideal biocompatible coating material for medical devices, according to Josh Simon, Biocoat senior product manager.
Because hyaluronan is characterized by its lubriciousness, the company’s Hydak hyaluronan-based coating is suitable for catheters, guidewires, and other devices that benefit from this property. In addition to being hydrophilic, abrasion resistant, and nonthrombogenic, the coating boasts wettability, flexibility, and stability when in contact with body fluids. It also prevents adhesion of platelets, proteins, and microorganisms to the device. Typical substrates include polyurethanes and Pebax; however, the coating can also be used on some metals, such as stainless steel.
An additional feature of Biocoat’s coating is that it contains no animal products. Whereas hyaluronic acid is often made from animal derivatives, Hydak’s base is animal free, thereby quashing fears of Mad Cow Disease and other animal-related ailments, Simon says. “It’s from a natural material; the hyaluronic acid is actually manufactured by bacteria,” he continues. “There is no use of animal products whatsoever to create this stuff. Even the bacteria are fed with nonanimal products.”
Animal-free and featuring a plethora of promising properties for use on medical devices requiring biocompatibility, hyaluronan-based Hydak coating technology can be licensed for use by OEMs. “We provide the technology know-how and we sell the reagents for the coating. The third-party OEM would buy this from us and make it [at its own facility],” explains Simon.
Doing so could even enable OEMs to cut costs in the process. “The process for manufacturing tends to be cheaper [than for competing coatings] because it is a heat-curing process; this material is heat cured and the capital cost to do all this is quite small compared with some of the other competitors that tend to use ultraviolet light,” Simon notes. The coating is typically applied to devices using a dip-coating process.
Already experiencing success in the medical device market with the Hydak coating, Biocoat is looking to MD&M West and beyond for the next generation of hyaluronic acid–based coatings. The company is seeking partners to expand its portfolio of lubricious coatings as well as to potentially enter into the development of antimicrobial coatings.