Bob Stern’s father suffered a stroke at age 40. “When you have a stroke, your life and those around you are affected forever,” he says from experience.
Stern’s response was to build one of the largest stroke treatment companies in the world, Micrus Endovascular (MEND), acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2010 for half a billion dollars. Two months later, he heard from renowned Israeli serial entrepreneur/inventor Yossi Gross of Rainbow Medical.
Gross invited Stern to Herzliya to examine his implantable invention for treating drug-resistant hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular events including stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced.
Approximately 75 million Americans have hypertension, and more than five million of them are resistant to drug therapy. Worldwide, it’s estimated that one billion people have elevated blood pressure not adequately controlled by medication.
Stern accepted Gross’s invitation and later accepted an invitation to be president and CEO of Vascular Dynamics, the company Rainbow founded around this minimally invasive solution, called MobiusHD.
MobiusHD was awarded the European Union’s CE Mark in December 2015, and in February 2017 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its participation in the Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) program. Pre-market clinical trials to evaluate the ongoing safety and performance of the device are taking place in the United States and Europe.
How MobiusHD works
The MobiusHD device is implanted inside the carotid artery, where it amplifies the signals sent to the artery’s baroreceptor nerves, prompting these nerves to alert the brain continuously that the patient’s blood pressure is very high. The brain responds by signaling the blood vessels to dilate, which reduces blood pressure.
“It’s the brilliant mind of Yossi Gross that allowed this to come forward,” says Stern. “He had a simple idea that if you can impact the baroreceptors, you can potentially modulate blood pressure in these patients.”
Stern established the company in Mountain View, California, where he had access to former MEND employees. They determined the implant’s final shape and delivery system.
“When people look at our technology, they say ‘Wow, that is so simple.’ It’s the same reaction I had when I first saw it,” says Stern.