Cardiac Device Prototype In Development

April 1, 2002

Researchers at UNT Health Science Center have developed a prototype of a new tool for heart surgeons and cardiologists that would support a patientâ??s circulation following heart surgery or heart failure more effectively than pumps currently in use.

After results are in from initial laboratory testing, the new device will proceed to clinical trials to obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The â??Enhanced Intra-Aortic Balloon Assist Deviceâ? is specifically designed to overcome limitations of current devices in maintaining aortic blood pressure at an adequate level. Currently, cardiologists or cardiac surgeons use regular intra-aortic balloon assist devices to reduce the heartâ??s workload and improve flow of blood to a patientâ??s brain, heart and other vital organs. These pumps may not provide adequate circulatory support for patients with severely diseased or injured hearts.

Fred Downey, PhD, and Xiaoming Bian, MD, PhD, of the health science centerâ??s Cardiovascular Research Institute, invented the new device to improve blood flow and provide circulatory support when pressures fall below those required by currently available pumps. The enhanced device adds an external pumping module that works in series with an internal pump in cases where conventional intra-aortic balloon pumps are unable to maintain adequate blood flow.

â??This device has the potential to provide additional support for patients with failing hearts,â? said Dr. Downey, who has studied heart function and coronary circulation for more than 30 years. â??Results from our initial prototype testing and simulation studies have been very promising.â?

Further, Dr. Downey anticipates that the new device will be specified for most conditions that require circulatory support, so that its reserve pumping capacity will be available, even if the patientâ??s aortic blood pressure is initially high enough to use a regular pump.

After the U.S. Patent Office approved the invention in February 2001, the health science center licensed exclusive worldwide rights to Cardiac Surgical Devices, Inc., a privately held start-up company based in Irvine, California. In exchange, the health science center acquired 20 percent of the companyâ??s outstanding stock.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congestive heart failure is the single most frequent cause of hospitalization for people aged 65 years or older, and heart disease is the leading cause of premature, permanent disability among working adults.

The Cardiovascular Research Institute was established in 1995 as an Institute of Discovery of UNT Health Science Center. CRI is a multidisciplinary program designed to promote basic and clinical research, education, clinical practice, and community outreach programs in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease.

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