Avinger and Sawtooth Labs have merged to form a single organization under the Avinger name to develop catheter-based technologies treating vascular disease.

Avinger has recently released its commercial product, the Wildcat Guidewire Support Catheter, cleared by the FDA in February 2009 to support treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The Wildcat is a special kind of catheter that enters an artery through a small incision in the groin and functions similarly to a corkscrew within the vessel, enabling a guidewire to pass through plaque deposits. Subsequently, a therapeutic device such as an angioplasty balloon, stent, or atherectomy catheter can be used to restore circulation to the arteries of the leg.

Avinger has been developing a pipeline focused on delivering devices that merge a therapy and intravascular visualization into a single catheter a platform which currently does not exist for minimally invasive treatment of vascular disease.

John Simpson, founder of Avinger and Sawtooth Labs, an interventional cardiologist and renowned medical device entrepreneur, said: “I find this area exciting because I know our combination of different technologies will help improve PAD patient outcomes, and I am excited when we help prevent scheduled amputations.

“In addition to improving peripheral blood flow, I am also convinced we will derive information from the tissue we visualize and characterize via histological tissue analysis on the excised plaque that will help create patient-specific therapies. I strongly believe this gives Avinger a unique opportunity to analyze the underlying pathology of atherogenesis, promote drug discovery, and correlate these findings with patient outcomes over time.”