Pulse-less artificial heart gets new lease of life with US$2.8m
20 August 2009
The Texas Heart Institute has been awarded a $2.8 million grant from
the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a second year of research
to develop a pulse-less total artificial heart. The heart uses two
MicroMed ventricular assist devices (VADs), initially created by Drs
Michael DeBakey and George Noon.
“Two years ago, I went to Dr DeBakey to discuss using two continuous
flow VADs to create a total artificial heart,” said principal
investigator Bud Frazier, MD, chief of Cardiopulmonary Transplantation,
chief of the Center for Cardiac Support and director of Surgical
Research at the Texas Heart Institute.
“We wanted to work with a local company and MicroMed’s VAD was ideal
because of its miniature size. Dr DeBakey said he was surprised he
hadn’t thought of the idea himself.”
Dr Frazier’s Total Artificial Heart uses two MicroMed HeartAssist 5
VADs. One VAD circulates blood throughout the body and the other
circulates blood to and from the lungs.
A MicroMed HeartAssist 5 ventricular assist device
“Over the last year, under Dr Frazier’s leadership and direction, we
focused on anatomical fitting, atrial cuff configuration and the
experimental protocol to get repeatable and reliable results,” said
Robert Benkowski, Chief Operating Officer for MicroMed Cardiovascular.
“Our goals are to continue development of a ground-breaking algorithm
for balancing the left and right pumps, to design an integrated
controller that can run both pumps and to evaluate which physiologic
sensors are necessary for the controller.”
The grant was originally awarded in June 2008 under the NIH
Bioengineering Research Partnership, a special program to encourage
collaboration among medical, academic and engineering experts. The Total
Artificial Heart project is a joint effort by Texas Heart Institute,
University of Houston, Rice University and MicroMed Cardiovascular.
The HeartAssist 5 pump weighs only 92 grams and measures just 2.8 x
1.2 inches. Because of its miniature size, it is one of the few LVADs
that can be implanted above the diaphragm, adjacent to the heart. The
HeartAssist 5 is the only LVAD with a precise, direct flow measurement
In Europe, the HeartAssist 5, the Modern DeBakey VAD, has CE Marks
for both adult and pediatric use. In the US, the HeartAssist 5, formerly
DeBakey VAD Child, is the only FDA-approved pediatric VAD. A
bridge-to-transplant IDE clinical study is currently underway in the US
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