Augmenix Inc. announced the first commercial implantation of its SpaceOAR prostate-rectum separation hydrogel system in Europe.
Doctors at Germany’s Aachen University Hospital implanted the CE Mark-approved absorbable spacer system, designed to protect tissue underneath the prostate during radiation therapy, according to the company.
“The potential for radiation injury to nearby healthy tissues is always a concern for radiation oncologists, and the SpaceOAR hydrogel is a simple, easy-to-use tool that should reduce undesirable rectal radiation in prostate cancer patients," said Dr. Michael Pinkawa, one of the attending physicians, in a prepared statement.
According to the Waltham, Mass.-based company, the damage caused by collateral radiation can force a treatment compromise between delivering enough radiation to eradicate cancerous cells and having acceptable rates of complications in surrounding organs.
Serial hydrogel entrepreneur and Augmenix founder Amar Sawhney told MassDevice that the company won the CE Mark for the SpaceOAR product “three or four months ago,” and used the intervening time to build its European distribution network.
“Most approaches to organ-sparing in radiation treatment have used large capital equipment. This is the first time for an approach that uses a disposable, absorbable material,” Sawhney told us. “It’s a really different mindset.”
Sawhney is also the founder of Ocular Therapeutix Inc., formerly I-Therapeutix Inc., which is developing the I-Zip ocular bandage, another hydrogel-based product that’s applied as a liquid but morphs into a soft, protective barrier which then breaks down into tears. And he founded Confluent Surgical Inc., which Covidien plc (NYSE:COV) acquired for $245 million in 2006.
Augmenix presented at the October 2009 MassMEDIC Medtech Investors Conference, when the company’s hydrogel-based product was still in development. The company secured $6.1 million in a Series B round to develop the product in the same month.
Augmenix said that its SpaceOAR system is "the first implantable, absorbable product designed specifically to protect vulnerable tissues during radiotherapy."