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Healionics’ STARgraft vascular graft acts as an artificial blood vessel for dialysis patients. (Healionics Photo)

Seattle-based medical technology company Healionics raised $3.8 million to support the development of an artificial blood vessel called STARgraft for patients who undergo dialysis treatment.

Patients with failed kidneys can undergo dialysis several times per week to filter waste from the bloodstream. In administering the treatment, physicians often use a vascular graft to maintain access to the bloodstream, but current grafts often fail due to blockages, also known as vascular occlusion.

CEO Mike Connolly. (Healionics Photo)

“In multiple controlled preclinical studies, STARgraft has demonstrated remarkably high resistance to occlusion, which is the most common cause of failure among all currently-available vascular grafts,” Healionics CEO Mike Connolly told GeekWire in an email.

Healionics plans to start its first human trial of STARgraft early this year.

The Seattle-based company has made good use of its location, developing relationships with the University of Washington and Northwest Kidney Centers, both of which were pioneers of dialysis treatment, as well as the Kidney Research Institute and the Center for Dialysis Innovation.

Healionics plans to use its signature biomaterial for other applications as well. One such product, STARport, is an implant that eliminates the need for needles in dialysis.

Healionics spinout company iSTAR Medical has used the same STAR biomaterial to create a glaucoma treatment device that showed promising results in a human trial. iStar was founded in 2011 and is based in Belgium.

Both the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense have given Healionics grants to develop its platform. The company has eight employees and was founded in 2007.

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