The 5 hottest medtech startups of 2018

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There’s a complaint sometimes that innovation is too incremental in the medical device industry. But don’t tell that to the people running the 10 companies included in Medical Design & Outsourcing and MassDevice’s list of the hottest medtech startups of 2018.

Our editors came up with a list of 20 interesting young companies. We then surveyed our readers and then whittled the list down to 10.  Along the way, we got to see that there are truly game-changing innovations out there — advances that could not only change the treatment of particular diseases but also enable healthcare systems to run more effectively and efficiently.

From neuromodulation to treat urinary and bowel dysfunction disorders and type 2 diabetes to new surgical robotics and drug delivery technology, here are 10 of the most exciting medtech startups of 2018.

Big legacy medical device companies including Edwards Lifesciences, Medtronic and Abbott are seeking to move beyond transcatheter aortic valve replacement to the new frontier — transcatheter mitral valve replacement. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on companies in the space.

4C Medical Technologies, however, thinks it has a potentially better solution. Instead of replacing a person’s mitral valve, 4C Medical’s AltaValve device is positioned supra-annular to the leaking native mitral, preventing the leak from entering the left atrium.

By preserving the native mitral valve and left ventricle while still treating mitral regurgitation, the AltaValve provides an answer to the complications presently associated with TMVR, according to the company.

4C Medical last year raised $9 million in a round led by Canadian angel network Anges Québec. The AltaValve won first place in the Cardiovascular Research Technologies (CRT) competition held March 3–6, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

Axonics Modulation Technologies is looking to challenge major players in the field of neuromodulation. The Irvine, Calif.-based company is developing novel, implantable sacral nerve neuromodulation tech to treat patients with urinary and bowel dysfunction disorders, with hopes that the platform will be expandable into other clinical indications in the future.

With technology licensed from the Alfred Mann Foundation, the company’s Axonics r-SNM system features a miniaturized rechargeable implantable stimulator it claims will work for at least 15 years,. The system also features a charging system designed for quick charge times and a user-friendly remote control and programming interface.

Axonics has already made some bold steps against its competition – Medtronic’s InterStim device and StimGuard – having won approval in Canada and Europe for the system with indications for treating overactive bladder, urinary retention and fecal incontinence.

Day Zero Diagnostics is in the process of developing a new class of diagnostic that rapidly tests patients to determine the right antibiotics to use in a given situation. The system will identify the targeted antibiotics in five hours, rather than two to three days later, enabling physicians to transition away from broad-spectrum antibiotic use that has led to the global health crisis of antibiotic resistance.

Unlike other molecular diagnostics that can only detect a handful of specific targets, Day Zero uses the entire genomic sequence and its proprietary Keynome algorithm to identify a comprehensive range of bacterial pathogens and their resistance characteristics within hours.

The company won the Medtech Innovator Competition in 2017. Its combination of genome sequencing and machine learning has the potential to modernize infectious disease diagnosis and treatments, as well as improve patient safety and reduce costs.

Wound care, hemostatic devices and associated products may not have the flash of their technological competitors in medtech, but are just as innovative. College Park, Md.–based Gel-E is looking to make waves in the hemostatic and wound treatment fields with its platform of wound care products designed around its proprietary, self-assembling biopolymer, which it claims create rapid coagulation with inherent anti-microbial properties.

Gel-E is developing a number of different applications utilizing its hemostatic technology, including strips, films, bandages and gels designed for use both externally and internally.

The company touts significant improvements over commercial chitosan-based hemostatics, and was featured as a top innovator in the late Stephen Hawking’s BBC series. The company also recently won a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop products aimed at prolonged field care.

“Gel-E is on an arc to bring disruptive new hemostatic and wound treatment products to clinic, OR and backyard. We rely on a programmable advanced materials platform to design products that can solve unmet clinical needs for a broad array of human bleeding events,” Larry Tiffany, the company’s president, told Medical Design & Outsourcing.

“At the core, Gel-e is an advanced materials company. We’re building a materials platform, and while it has found FDA-cleared applications in hemostasis and wound treatment, we view these early products as the beginning of a robust pipeline,” said chief scientific officer Matthew Dowling.

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