The University of Akron announced it recently signed a technology licensing agreement with Boston Scientific which expands its rights to a family of novel polymers developed by researchers at the university for use in medical devices.
The expanded license includes the use of these materials in the development of implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers, where the polymers can be used on the pacemaker leads. Boston Scientific has made significant strategic investments in the cardiac rhythm management area, which includes pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators, most notably through its acquisition of Guidant Corp. in April.
Boston Scientific first used this polymer technology in the development of its TAXUS drug-eluting cardiovascular stent system. The TAXUS stent releases the drug paclitaxel in a controlled manner from the UA polymer to prevent coronary artery tissue from reclogging the stent following implantation in the coronary artery. A stent is a small wire mesh scaffold that is expanded in the coronary artery to open blockages. The TAXUS stent is the most widely sold stent in the United States.
"This is yet another example of how academia and business can collaborate on products and processes that can directly and favorably improve the health and well-being of millions of people," says Dr. George Newkome, UA vice president for research and dean of the graduate school. "We are pleased that Boston Scientific continues to recognize the value in our discoveries and we are pleased with the continued collaboration."
The UA material is based on a copolymer of polystyrene and polyisobutylene, called SIBS, which features modifiable triblock morphology. The polymer can be designed to release drugs over different time spans. Boston Scientific has demonstrated the polymer's remarkable biostability and biocompatibility.
The polymer component of Boston Scientific's TAXUS stent system is one of several biocompatible polymers, first invented by Dr. Joseph P. Kennedy, distinguished professor of polymer science, and colleagues Dr. Judit E. Puskas, UA professor of polymer science, research scholar Gabor Kaszas and graduate student William G. Hager. The polymers are one of a family of copolymers developed at the university that Boston Scientific licensed.