Cutting a hole in the heart to treat congestive heart failure may sound counterintuitive, but a Texas Medical Center (TMC) startup company hopes to do just that.
Alleviant Medical is developing a transcatheter device to treat diastolic heart failure, which occurs when one or both of the ventricles do not fill up properly with blood and are unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
The device will enter the body near the groin, travel through the body via the femoral vein, and then gain access to the heart. At that point, an expandable blade will cut a hole in the wall separating the left and right atria. The blade and tissue will be pulled back into the device, which will then be removed.
This hole will help blood flow from the left chamber to the right chamber of the heart.
Over the past 20 years or so, medical devices, treatments and drugs have helped people with heart disease, but there are few options for people suffering from heart failure, said Jacob Kriegel, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Alleviant Medical.
“It’s a very morbid condition, so it rose to the top of the list as an important unmet need,” Kriegel said.
Kriegel and his colleagues, Alex Arevalos, Ph.D., Albertien Greijdanus, MSc, and Avni Patel, M.E., examined several hundred unmet needs as part of TMC Biodesign, a one-year fellowship program that gathers people with diverse backgrounds to solve health care problems via medical devices or digital products.
“As a cardiac surgery trainee, I had seen hundreds of heart failure patients, but for me, it took sitting down with engineers to see the problem through new eyes,” Kriegel said. “Our perspectives merged with market opportunity.”
Kriegel and his colleagues understand that creating a hole in the heart comes with risk. But if the hole is precisely sized, it can distribute the correct amount of pressure from the left atrial to the right atrial without dramatically increasing the right-sided pressure—a therapeutic benefit while minimizing risk. The hole will allow blood to flow naturally from the left chamber to the right chamber, lowering the pressure on the left and slightly increasing the pressure on the right, where it is already low, Kriegel said.
With every heartbeat, it is expected that 30 percent of the blood in the left atrium will transfer into the right atrium, and the remaining 70 percent will get pumped forward along its natural pathway into the left ventricle and out to the body, he added. The blood that gets sent into the right atrium will travel to the lungs and then continue along through the normal circulation.
A hole may drastically improve quality of life for older patients, keeping them independent and out of the hospital.
“The hole we create will be the least of their problems, and we believe it will alleviate their symptoms,” Kriegel said.
Current treatments for heart failure include a diuretic, or water pill, but that medication has side effects that include kidney failure. Other treatment options include inserting a stent—an expandable mesh tube, usually made of stainless steel—to create a passageway between the left and right atria that allows blood to flow more freely. But all implantable devices come with the risk of blood clots—which can grow around the device—and stroke.
Alleviant Medical’s device packs the severed tissue down inside the device and removes it safely from the body. That’s important, because any particle or foreign material left can flow into the brain and cause a stroke, Kriegel said.
Though the company is less than a year old, it has gained traction in the business plan competition circuit. Already, Alleviant Medical has won challenges at Rice University and the University of Massachusetts. The team plans to continue at the Texas Medical Center, joining the upcoming TMCx medical device accelerator.
“These competitions have been good learning experiences for us because we have received validation on our device,” Kriegel said. “We’ve been able to see where our risks are, where we have proven the technology and what people are concerned about. Overall, we hear good things, and that people are looking for a new solution to the problem.”
Highland Park, Tennessee honors local Veterans https://t.co/Z6fi3kFLqP via @CitizenTribune
'Wreaths Across America' to honor Veterans https://t.co/kbEXtSmJ2x @WPTV
“Beautiful scars that I couldn’t be more proud of.”That’s how Suzanne Mesa describes the chordoma-removal surgery that saved her life: https://t.co/qvSGavA8xb @AMericliMD #endcancer
French honor WWII Veteran from Burnet, Texas https://t.co/4bqAVczpdI via @BurnetBulletin
‘Twas the weeks before Christmas, when all through the hospital, the holiday spirit touched everyone, more than a little.Over the past three days, Santa and his elves have been delivering gifts to our inpatients and spreading holiday cheer. #endcancer https://t.co/ATHQ1WMkqM
If you missed Dr. @PeterHotez on @TexasMonthly's National Podcast of Texas earlier this week, be sure to check out the recap. https://t.co/aPVxHsEBFF #vaccines
University of Houston@UHouston
RT @UHpres: Youngest to graduate is 18 year old and oldest 72...you can follow your dream at UH at any age!
University of Houston@UHouston
@HunnyB_2 don't drink and drive ☝️
@davidfpenn @mdahpbaloia We're glad to hear that, David. We're sending good vibes your way.
RT @BCMHouston_News: .@bcmhouston @BCMEmergencyMed toxicologist Dr. Spencer Greene discusses the dangerous ways a prescribed stimulant can…
Overweight women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of it recurring. A team of Houston Methodist researchers developed an app to help women stick with a healthy eating & exercise plan https://t.co/O4sPH08UxF
UTHealth offers tips on how to stay healthy and stress free during holiday season: https://t.co/PeuaDf07pQ
RT @McGovernMed: Dr. Bryant Boutwell reads from his latest biography: I'm Dr. Red Duke https://t.co/hbkiRsWPRG
RT @UTPhysicians: Please join us in congratulating Dr. Eyal Porat, cardiovascular surgeon, for receiving the Physician of the Year award at…
CHI St. Luke's Health@CHI_StLukes
RT @OPreventzaMD: Micaela,Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey ! The Heart of Micaela's Fondest Wish https://t.co/lFYWiyIWS…