The diversity of Austrian device innovators
Medical devices and related technologies have always been a strong part of the life science industries in Austria. From large international device companies, individual businesses with a single device and multiple companies supplying parts and know-how, Austrian industry embraces every stage in the value chain.
Recent advances in IT and materials have enabled the medical technology industry to develop new products that can dramatically improve patients’ lives. The medical technology sector has been growing rapidly in the last 25 years and Austria has been at the forefront of this revolution.
The Austrian Centre for Medical Innovation and Technology (ACMIT) commenced operations as a Comet K1 competence centre in April 2010 and is active in fundamental and application-oriented research in the field of medical technology. As a K1 centre, the consortium will involve more than 40 national and international partners from science and industry to plan and carry out its collaborative research projects. Research at the centre includes minimally invasive procedures, medical robotics for needle-based interventions and restraint, integrated sensor technology and workflow, interfaces and simulations.
The following case studies focus on a small selection of the companies producing truly groundbreaking medical technologies in Austria:
Since it was set up 150 years ago, Carl Reiner has dedicated itself to the construction and development of state-of-the-art surgical instruments and equipment. Starting with the manufacture of tonsil compressors based on Dr. Haslinger’s model, the company’s product range reached a high point with the innovative Twinstream respirator. Carl Reiner recently took the plunge into the global market with the first microprocessor-controlled unit for jet ventilation. This special ventilation technique was researched by Carl Reiner in cooperation with the Vienna General Hospital and other partners. The special feature of this innovative procedure is that it enables patients to be ventilated without a separate air tube. The space gained as a result is particularly important during operations on the lung or trachea when surgeon and anaesthetist have to share access to the patient.
Jeder is a dental technology company in Vienna. Their proprietary Jeder®-System offers a minimally invasive way to do a sinus lift. A sinus lift is surgery that adds bone to the upper jaw in the area of the back teeth. A sinus lift is done when there is not enough bone in the upper jaw for dental implants to be placed. The conventional procedure for a sinus lift is very invasive and subjects the patient to great stress as a result of substantial swelling, discolouration, and possibly pain. With the Jeder®-System however, it is possible to perform a sinus lift in a minimally invasive way by using high hydraulic pressure. During clinical studies, the technology has proven to be safe and effective and is currently being marketed.
Fresenius Medical Care Adsorber Tec (former Biotec Systems Krems) was founded as spin-off from Danube University Krems in 1999. After acquisition by Fresenius Medical Care, the site at the Technopol Krems was upgraded to a competence centre for manufacturing and development of adsorbents in the field of medical devices serving products for the treatment of liver failure, autoimmune disorders and severe hypercholesterolemia. The company has a special expertise in the development and production of adsorbents for extracorporeal blood purification. The systems are optimised in chemical nature, structure and surface constitution to attract specific toxins without affecting physiological solutes. Comparable to dialysis, the adsorbents are used to purify the patient’s blood outside the body.
The Vienna-based Zytoprotec was founded in February 2007 and is a biotech company that specialises in “cell protection/cell repair”. The company’s most advanced drug candidate PD-protec™ has completed Phase I/II of clinical development to improve the survival of patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis (PD), an effective treatment option for patients suffering from end-stage renal disease or kidney failure. However, PD fluids currently damage the patients’ peritoneum over time, limiting the time patients can survive on this treatment. PD-protec™ is designed to protect peritoneal cells from the degeneration caused by current PD fluids.
tyromotion has become one of the world’s leading suppliers of innovative, pioneering, robotics-supported rehabilitation devices sector. tyromotion is entirely home-grown and has developed associated products: the Amadeo® finger rehabilitation system, the Pablo® System hand-arm-shoulder rehabilitation system and the Timo® therapy plate. They guarantee targeted, holistic and successful training of upper extremities and the whole body. The company also collaborates with other businesses around the world and won the prestigious Econovius award from the Austrian Economic Chamber of Trade, Commerce and Industry.
The independent and highly-specialised medical device manufacturer iSYS Medizintechnik develops innovative robotic solutions for micro-invasive interventions in interventional radiology and interventional oncology. iSYS’ core product, the iSYS 1, is the most advanced needle guidance platform for interventional procedures due to its compact design and high efficiency (= fast workflow by maximum accuracy), thereby ensuring safety for both, the physician and patient.
g.tec medical engineering is another pioneering company advancing Austria’s prowess in medical technologies. All hardware and software development is done in-house by a team of researchers, engineers and developers working on the same goal: EEG, ECG, EOG, EMG or even ECoG with the highest possible signal quality and a comfortable and fast montage of the electrodes. The first commercially available BCI system was developed by g.tec in 1999 and now this system is sold in more than 60 countries worldwide.
AFreeze uses cryotechnology for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia. The company’s technology is a device that shock-freezes tissue in the left atrium via a catheter, thereby eliminating all three possible mechanisms of arterial fibrillation. In addition to collaborations with Innsbruck Medical University, UMIT (The Health and Life Sciences University in Hall, Tyrol) and industrial partners, AFreeze has a growing patent portfolio and is constantly refining its expertise in cryoablation therapy of the heart.
EMCOOLS Medical Cooling Systems develops and markets novel non-invasive cooling devices to benefit neurologic outcomes after ischaemic events such as myocardial infarction, stroke and cardiac arrest. In worldwide pre-hospital and in-hospital settings, EMCOOLS products deliver a perfect synergy of a unique ease of use and a best-in-class product performance.
Miracor Medical Systems is commercialising a new technology for improving outcomes for heart attack patients. Using an approach called Pressure-controlled Intermittent Coronary Sinus Occlusion (PICSO), the method seeks to improve blood flow in the heart tissue and improve overall heart function after a severe heart attack. More than 3 million patients are treated for restricted coronary blood flow every year. Of these, more than 350,000 patients have poor heart tissue blood flow (microcirculation) even after successful balloon angioplasty or stent placement. Miracor is dedicated to help these patients to a better recovery following a heart attack.