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A Small Product with a Big Goal: Preventing Dialysis-Related Infections

Pursuit Vascular believes its main product – small, drug-coated caps for catheters – will play an important role in reducing infections, improving safety and keeping patients out of the hospital. That translates into saving lives and preventing unnecessary health care expenses.

The Maple Grove, Minn., company makes the ClearGuard HD Antimicrobial Barrier Cap, a patented invention designed to prevent costly and deadly bloodstream infections in hemodialysis patients with catheters.

“The novel design is ‘brilliantly simple,’ meaning very easy to use, yet highly effective at reducing catheter-related bloodstream infections,” says Doug Killion, CEO of Pursuit Vascular.

Nationally recognized for innovation 

This small device – two primary-colored, plastic screw-caps, each with a small dipstick – recently received national recognition: It won a Bronze Award at the 2016 Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) competition (Drug Delivery Device division), the medical technology industry’s premier design competition.

It has also won awards at Tekne (2011 Life Science division) – which honors innovation in Minnesota's science and technology industry – and at the Minnesota Cup (2009 Life Science/Health IT division) – the largest statewide new venture competition in the country.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the ClearGuard HD End Caps for sale in 2013. Pursuit Vascular then conducted two large randomized clinical trials with what Killion describes as "outstanding results." The company began selling ClearGuard HD in 2016 in the United States, the largest market for dialysis services. Outpatient dialysis service providers and hospitals are the company’s primary customers.

Pursuit Vascular plans to introduce a family of products to protect patients from life-threatening infections arising from the long-term use of catheters. The company also plans to export its products at some point.

pursuit-vascular-team

Pursuit Vascular has six issued U.S. patents and one international patent. Several U.S. and international patents are pending.

Between 2010 and 2014, the company raised more than $4 million from investors with the help of the Angel Tax Credit program managed by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

"The Angel Tax Credit program was helpful in bringing early money into the company," says Killlion. The company currently has eight employees.

ClearGuard was invented by Bob Ziebol, co-founder and vice president of Research and Development for Pursuit Vascular. He has extensive experience in dialysis-related technologies and holds 21 issued U.S. patents as well as several pending patents.

Catheter-related bloodstream infections were known to be a major problem for dialysis patients. Through bench testing, Ziebol studied the problem and developed a device designed to prevent the catheter from becoming infected.

Is Minnesota a good place for innovation? 

“Absolutely,” says Killion. “Minnesota, in particular the Twin Cities and Rochester, is one of the strongest medical device hubs in the world.

“An outstanding infrastructure exists to support product development, care of patients and even the payment for that care,” he adds.

Minnesota has a long history of success in medical technology, with hundreds of companies – including Medtronic, Boston Scientific and St. Jude Medical – operating in the area.

“For a company like Pursuit Vascular, this ecosystem provides access to employees and consultants with critical expertise in research and development, clinical studies, regulatory affairs, manufacturing, quality, and sales and marketing,” says Killion.

You can read more about Pursuit Vascular in this Star Tribune article from December 2016.

- Published February 2017

ClearGuard HD Antimicrobial Barrier Cap
ClearGuard HD Antimicrobial Barrier Cap

“Minnesota…is one of the strongest medical device hubs in the world. For a company like Pursuit Vascular, this ecosystem provides access to employees and consultants with critical expertise in research and development, clinical studies, regulatory affairs, manufacturing, quality and sales and marketing.”
– Doug Killion, Pursuit Vascular CEO

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