More than one million cardiac surgeries are carried out each year, usually successful. Nearly one-third of high-risk patients, however, will experience a rapid loss of kidney function after surgery, known as Acute Kidney Injury, or AKI. AKI is the result of short-term interruptions in blood flow during surgery; 11 percent of patients who develop AKI after bypass surgery will die, compared to 2 percent of those who do not. Those who survive AKI are at risk of developing longer term kidney complications such as chronic kidney disease or End Stage Renal Disease.
There is, therefore, a pressing need for better ways to prevent or treat AKI. Drs. Dan Dumont and Paul Van Slyke conceptualized and designed a drug called Vasculotide (VT) that binds to the Tie2 receptor, which is responsible for maintaining vascular health (and thus blood flow). Vasomune Therapeutics, the company developing and commercializing the drug, is partnering with Baxter International Inc., a global leader in the renal care market, to develop VT to the point where it is ready for human clinical trials. AT that point, Vasomune will be positioned to seek venture capital for further development.
Within three-to-five years of the end of the project, Vasomune will be a venture-backed Ontario biotech company with a Phase II clinical program in renal disease. Being able to prevent or reverse AKI will save the healthcare system as much as $1 billion each year, in part because fewer patients will develop chronic kidney disease. Canadians will also have earlier access to VT. Commercializing VT will also bring financial returns to Canada and provide training and create jobs for highly qualified personnel.