Dean Awarded $1.4 Million for Medical Device Research
May 24, 2013
Biomedical Engineering, Parks College News, Research
A research team led by Professor Theodosios Alexander, Sc.D., Dean of Parks College, was awarded £886k (about $1.4m) by the Invention for Innovation (i4i) Program of the National Institute for Health Research to develop a novel mechanical circulatory support device. The proposal is titled TURBOCARDIA: Mechanical Circulatory Support Installed Via Minimally Invasive Surgery. Alexander and his team are developing two mechanical circulatory support devices: TURBOCARDIA, designed for stage IV Congestive Heart Failure, developed in London, England and PICS (Percutaneously Implantable Cardiovascular Support), designed for stage III Congestive Heart Failure, developed at SLU’s Parks College in St. Louis, MO.
Unlike currently available Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs), both devices in development by Alexander’s teams are designed for installation without cardiopulmonary bypass and with minimally invasive surgery. This work is a paradigm shift in cardiac assist devices, which promises to change medical practices in the field. The outcome of this research has enormous implications for the quality of life for patients and their caregivers, and also provides long-term financial advantages for these patients and for their medical provision.
Congestive heart failure (CHF), a condition in which the human heart pumps blood ineffectively, is the leading cause of death in the western world. In the United States alone about five million people suffer from CHF, and about 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. CHF is graded and inevitably progresses in stages I, II, III and IV depending on the severity of symptoms. Medications work in stages I and II but their use is palliative in stages III and IV. Ultimately, death is likely within a few years of diagnosis. Unfortunately, donor hearts meet only two percent of the demand. Inevitably everyone knows someone who is affected by CHF. The CHF problem has led to the development of pump assist devices. Most of today’s pump assist devices are attached to the left ventricle of the heart and referred to as left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). LVADs require complex and invasive surgery, resulting in high mortality and morbidity rates. Therefore, they are used as a last solution only in stage IV of CHF.
Theodosios Alexander, Sc.D., Dean of Saint Louis University’s Parks College, is working to change the way we approach CHF and cardiovascular devices. He has been awarded the Inventor of the Year Award by the UK National Health Service Innovations Program for his personal research on mechanical circulatory support devices (MCS devices). These devices differ from VADs in that they are not attached to the heart and require minimally invasive surgery rather than an overly invasive procedure. He is actively pursuing the development and commercialization of these devices in London and now in St. Louis. His latest device, the one he is pursuing in St. Louis, is designed for use in early stage III CHF to assist the patient’s heart. Additionally, the device is removable because in many cases the device will help the heart recover and regenerate.