Avinger, Inc. Announces Completion of Merger With Sawtooth Labs, Inc.

Interventional cardiologist Dr. John B. Simpson's company is introducing powerful new weapons to fight peripheral artery disease

Feb 22, 2010, 15:37 ET from Avinger, Inc.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Avinger, Inc. and Sawtooth Labs, Inc., the two latest ventures started by John B. Simpson, Ph.D., M.D., announced the successful completion of their merger to form a single organization under the Avinger name.  The larger unified company is developing innovative catheter-based technologies treating vascular disease.  This is the eighth company founded by Dr. Simpson, interventional cardiologist and renowned medical device entrepreneur, whose pioneering efforts have provided patients with advanced therapies in a variety of areas, including coronary and peripheral directional atherectomy, chronic total occlusions (CTOs), intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), suture-mediated vascular closure, and localized drug delivery.  His companies include Advanced Cardiovascular Systems (sold to Eli Lilly and Co. in 1981), Devices for Vascular Intervention (acquired by Eli Lilly and Co. in 1990), Lumend (acquired by Cordis division of Johnson & Johnson in 2005), Perclose (purchased by Abbott Vascular in 1999), and FoxHollow Technologies, Inc. (merged with ev3, Inc. in 2007).

Four months ago, Avinger released its first commercial product, the Wildcat Guidewire Support Catheter (www.avinger.com/wildcat.php), cleared by the FDA in February 2009 to support treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD).  PAD is a complex degenerative disease in which lipids, cholesterol, calcium, and additional substances found in the blood stream (collectively called "plaque") build up inside the peripheral arterial walls and restrict flow of oxygenated blood, leading to complications such as claudication (walking pain), and critical limb ischemia (threatened limb loss).  The Wildcat is a special kind of catheter that enters an artery through a small incision in the groin and functions similarly to a corkscrew within the vessel, enabling a guidewire to pass through plaque deposits. Subsequently, a therapeutic device such as an angioplasty balloon, stent, or atherectomy catheter can be used to restore circulation to the arteries of the leg.

The company is developing a robust pipeline focused on delivering devices that merge a therapy and intravascular visualization into a single catheter – a platform which currently does not exist for minimally invasive treatment of vascular disease. "I find this area really exciting because I know our combination of different technologies will help improve PAD patient outcomes, and I am most excited when we help prevent scheduled amputations. In addition to improving peripheral blood flow, I am also convinced we will derive information from the tissue we visualize and characterize via histological tissue analysis on the excised plaque that will help create patient-specific therapies. I strongly believe this gives Avinger a unique opportunity to analyze the underlying pathology of atherogenesis, promote drug discovery, and correlate these findings with patient outcomes over time," said Dr. Simpson.

PAD affects 10-25 percent of Americans age 55 and older - approximately 8 million adults - and the percentage goes up with age. The disease is the leading cause of amputation in patients over 50, and is responsible for almost 200,000 amputations every year in the United States alone.  In addition, people suffering from PAD have a four to five times higher risk of related vascular disease like heart attack or stroke.  Despite its prevalence and cardiovascular risk implications, only 25 percent of PAD patients are currently undergoing treatment.  

About Avinger

Founded in 2007 by John B. Simpson, Ph.D., M.D., Avinger, Inc. (http://www.avinger.com) is developing the next generation of catheter-based technologies for the treatment of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease, utilizing our core competencies in medical device catheter engineering and intravascular imaging.  


John D. Simpson

Vice President, Commercial Operations

Phone: +1 650 363 2400


SOURCE Avinger, Inc.