Spotlight On Drug-Device Combination Therapies At BIOTECHNICA 2007

    15th International Trade Fair for Biotechnology (9 - 11 October)

    HANNOVER, GERMANY, September 4 /CNW/ - The combination of a
pharmacological substance and a medical product - which itself has no effect
on biochemical processes inside the human body - is one of the hot topics in
the biotech industry today.

    The global market for the combination preparations known as "stents" is
currently growing by an average of around 11 per cent a year, as a study by
the American analysts at BCC Research has shown. According to their
calculations, the tiny tubular implants that are used to support the walls of
blood vessels will be generating sales worth eight billion US dollars by the
year 2010. "This makes drug-device combinations an extraordinarily lucrative
market, in which the need for collaboration between commercial companies is
very great, and at the same time especially difficult", explains Stephan Ph.
Kuhne, who sits on the Board of Management at Deutsche Messe Hannover. "We
know that companies operating in these areas have little contact with each
other in the normal course of events - so it can be very difficult to find the
right partners." And this is where the BIOTECHNICA PARTNERING event comes in -
specifically designed to bring together commercial enterprises and research
scientists to collaborate on the development of drug-device combinations.

    Drug-eluting stents: the star performers in the drug-device world

    In the past the main market focus has been on so-called "drug-eluting
stents" for coronary heart diseases. Since 2002 surgeons have been using these
drug-coated stents to combat hardening of the coronary arteries - popularly
dubbed "managers' disease" - which ultimately leads to heart attacks. Although
they are notably more expensive that the uncoated implants, patients are
asking for them. However, the applications of drug-eluting stents are not
confined to the coronary blood vessels. They can also be used in large vessels
in the digestive tract or in the peripheral leg arteries.

    Although coated stents have been on the market for a comparatively long
time, there is still a long way to go in terms of their development. Hitherto
the principal coatings available for use in the coronary arteries have been
the chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel and the immunosuppressant drug Sirolimus,
which help to prevent blockages of the blood vessels. The search is now on for
new, more effective medications, optimized dosages - and even brand new ways
of combining therapeutic substances with the tiny lattice tubes. At present,
not even the standard preparations that would allow the use of coated stents
in other vessels are available.

    Five target areas for the use of drug-device combinations

    Although very large sums of money are being invested in the development
of drug-eluting stents, researchers are looking at other promising ways of
combining medical products with new pharmacological substances. Apart from
stents, we can identify four other areas where great strides are being made.
Catheters coated with antibiotics have been used to prevent infections of the
urinary tract, while bone cement containing antibiotics reduces the risk of
infection, particularly in the case of hip implants. Also falling into this
category are biological products for treating wounds and transdermal plasters
- typically used to transport hormones into the body through the skin. And
photodynamic tumour therapy or PDT is a cancer treatment designed to kill off
tumour cells by the targeted use of light. BCC Research estimates that the
market for these four areas of application will be worth 3.5 billion US
dollars by 2010. With the exception of the orthopaedic applications, all forms
of combination therapy are now seeing double-digit growth.

    So far the market for drug-device combination therapies has been
dominated by the Americans, not least because coated stents for use in
coronary vessels have been taken up with enthusiasm by the US health service
and by patients in the USA, so that the market has grown much faster than it
has in Europe. But driven by new strategic partnerships, of the very kind that
BIOTECHNICA is designed to promote, sales of combination therapies in Europe
are set to receive a significant boost.

    Additional press releases and photos can be downloaded at

For further information:

For further information: Deutsche Messe AG for BIOTECHNICA Katharina
Siebert, +49 511 89-31028

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