TOKYO -- Terumo plans to acquire a French start-up that develops stents that naturally dissolve within a patient's blood vessels after a certain period of time -- a new type of product that imposes a lighter burden on the patient than conventional stents.
The Japanese medical equipment manufacturer has formed a partnership with Arterial Remodeling Technologies to jointly develop the stents, which are mesh tubes inserted into blood vessels to widen them. ART has technologies for producing flexible stents that match the shapes of blood vessels.
Through the deal, Terumo gained the exclusive right to acquire ART later on. It intends to turn ART into a wholly owned subsidiary if their joint development gets on track, with the purchase price estimated at 15 billion yen ($144 million). Plans call for new products to be launched in Europe as early as 2017, with releases in Japan and the U.S. to follow.
Stents are usually made of metal, and a common type slowly releases a drug to prevent cell activities that could block the stented blood vessel. An estimated 2.2 million people receive treatment involving drug-eluting stents every year. Demand is projected to grow as more people suffer from heart attacks and other conditions related to blood vessels in line with the graying of the population in industrialized nations.
Metal stents remain in the body after treatment, so patients need to continue taking drugs over an extended period to prevent blockage at that site. Another downside is that stents cannot be used again at the same place. Terumo and ART plan to develop bioresorbable stents made from plant-derived resin, which is more compatible with the body than metal.
Terumo holds just a roughly 2% share of the global market for drug-eluting stents. It aims to boost its market share to 10-15% by acquiring from ART the latest technologies for bioresorbable stents, a relatively new field.