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Lungs Expand Device Markets

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

It's more than a coincidence that cardiology company Boston Scientific has invested in Broncus Technologies and its rival Guidant, in Spiration Inc., two start-ups with minimally-invasive devices for the treatment of lung diseases. Interventional pulmonology could just be the next double-digit growth area to succeed interventional cardiology, which is maturing; what's more, it takes advantage of the core competencies of the big firms.

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superDimension: Navigating Interventional Pulmonology

Ever since the transformative success of interventional cardiology, the emergence of new interventional subspecialties seems to come at ever quicker paces. One of the latest clinical spaces to embrace the interventional revolution is pulmonology, which over the past couple of years has seen a host of new procedures and devices transforming traditional procedures. Indeed, the pace at which interventional cardiology evolved now seems almost leisurely compared with that at which interventional pulmonology companies are now moving. Thus, many of the companies in the space face an interesting dilemma: how to establish a foundation in this new specialty and, at the same time, how to refine that technology to keep pace with the field as it grows. That's the challenge facing superDimension, whose executives believe they own not just the road map, but the road itself.

Pulmonology: The Next Interventional Cardiology

Pulmonologists, a group of device-friendly physicians without many tools at their disposal, treat large diseases with unmet needs like emphysema, asthma, and lung cancer. They thus represent an attractive, untapped market for medical device companies. Many companies targeting emphysema have been formed by executives from the interventional cardiology industry and aim to follow the tried and true path of that industry, of introducing new minimally-invasive versions of open surgical predicate procedures. Others are following the tougher route of working in diseases like asthma, for which no device predicates exist. Companies hope to offer high volume procedures that will grow interventional pulmonology from a niche specialty treating end-stage cancer patients to a specialty that routinely performs millions of procedures on patients with non-malignant diseases that are currently poorly managed by drugs.

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