Congestive heart failure is one of the most serious medical challenges of our day. With 5.7 million Americans affected by this disabling disease, congestive heart failure is the leading cause of hospital admissions with an economic burden exceeding $40 billion each year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Oklahoma, and the state has the second highest mortality rate in the nation. Once end-stage is reached, the only alternatives to death are heart transplant or implantable blood pumps.
Current implantable blood pumps, known as left ventricular assist devices, require open heart surgery to implant and a minimum three week hospitalization. The devices continue to be plagued by adverse effects including bleeding, blood clots, strokes or infection. They are also large and require patients to carry around 8 to 13 pounds of batteries.
VADovations, a spin out of INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, is creating a miniature blood pump the size of a AAA battery, enabling less invasive surgery to implant, shortening hospitalization time from three weeks to three or four days. Patients would not be burdened with toting heavy batteries, thanks to the company’s partnership with Frontier Electronic Systems and the University of Tulsa, allowing the patient a better quality of life. Most importantly, the miniature blood pump will be more compatible with the human body, significantly decreasing the adverse effects which occur with current blood pumps, potentially saving millions of lives.
In addition to the Frontier Electronic Systems collaboration, OCAST also helped VADovations through the Oklahoma SBIR Collaborative Resources program. The resulting $3 million “Fast-Track” award provided a significant source of additional capital to accelerate VADovations research and development efforts. VADovations has grown from 3 to 12 employees in 2012 and expects to double in size in 2013. They’ve recently expanded into a larger facility to expand production and testing of their blood pump in Oklahoma. The company plans to begin clinical trials in 2014.
“We would have never met Frontier Electronic Systems or been introduced to the nano-battery without OCAST,” said Trevor Snyder, vice president, research and development at VADovations. “Our miniature heart pump required a small battery, so without the nanobattery, our product wouldn’t have been as viable. It will be a significant competitive advantage for our product.”
“We would have never known about VADovations without OCAST making that connection for us,” said Rolls. “Having an end product like the heart pump in mind when we are designing the battery allows our research to go so much faster and opens the door to other applications for our technology.”
VADovations miniature blood pump
compared to the current blood pump.