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New Device Boasts Minimally Invasive Heart Repair

man holding model heart

As the nation’s leading provider of holter monitors, and cardiac monitoring equipment, we were thrilled to learn about an exciting new technological advancement out of Harvard. 

Heart patients may one day benefit from a new surgical catheterizing technology developed by researchers in a variety of academic departments at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. The university’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) has reached an agreement with HoliStick Medical, a new technology company in Paris, France, to further develop the device and make it commercially viable.

Patients who have certain conditions, such as a hole in the heart or other cardiac problems that involve valves, can benefit from minimally invasive procedures that these new devices can facilitate. These minimally invasive procedures have a number of advantages over traditional procedures that include reduced trauma, shorter recovery, less scarring, reduced chance of infection and better overall health.

The new catheter technology is owned and developed in cooperation between Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of technology and two local Boston hospitals. The French development company was incorporated in late December 2017 and is listed as being involved in the wholesale trade of business-to-business pharmaceutical products. Truffle Capital, a French venture capital firm, is providing financing for the company. With more than $1.2 billion in assets, Truffle focuses on promoting start-ups in the life sciences and information technology industries.

What makes this technology special is that it uses sort structures in the body to repair tissue defects such as holes in the heart or similar problems in other essential organs. It’s designed to work with a variety of materials that are sticky and flexible. The device uses mechanisms that carefully close holes without using sutures or rigid tools. Such a non-invasive approach to repairing soft tissue can improve the ability of surgeons to work on difficult-to-reach organs, per studies published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in 2015.

This new innovation is termed a disruptive technology, which means it has the potential to replace existing technologies and processes and has the potential to be a ground-breaking item that can create an entirely new industry. Disruptive technology, however, lacks refinement and can potentially have performance problems as such devices are not yet part of a proven platform. HoliStick Medical indicated upon incorporation that it intended to specialize in testing and developing disruptive technologies. This surgical catheter has the potential to revolutionize heart and other delicate surgeries.

The potentially ground-breaking catheter was created by a consortium of researchers from both life sciences and technology fields within Harvard. Conor Walsh, Ph.D., was the lead investigator and researcher of the team that developed the catheter. Walsh has considerable credentials at Harvard University holding a number of prominent positions in the school’s engineering, applied sciences and bioengineering department. He is also a member of the faculty at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Ellen Roche, Ph.D., a doctoral student at SEAS, was the lead scientist on the development team and prominent local surgeons such as Pedro del Nido, MD, and Jeffrey M. Karp, Ph.D.

Sam Liss of Harvard’s OTD Department indicated that bringing this development into the clinical application has taken a tremendous amount of dedication among the members of the research team.

The SEAS and the Wyss Institute lab has garnered a reputation for developing smart medical devices through a combination of engineering, industrial design, medical practice, and business acumen. The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation have provided support in the research and development of this device.

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