A Georgia Tech and Emory University medical device startup that has developed a system to simplify and standardize the technique for opening and closing the beating heart during cardiac surgery has received a $5.1 million investment.
Apica Cardiovascular has licensed the Georgia Tech/Emory technology and will further develop the system, which will make the transapical access and closure procedure required for delivering therapeutic devices to the heart more routine for all surgeons. The goal is to expand the use of surgery techniques that are less invasive and do not require stopping the heart.
"Our company has leveraged the expertise in cardiovascular technology at Georgia Tech and the clinical experience of surgeons at Emory University to develop a technology that has the potential to revolutionize the delivery of different types of medical devices to the heart, including aortic and mitral valves," said the company's CEO James Greene.
With research and development support from the Coulter Foundation Translational Research Program and the Georgia Research Alliance VentureLab program, the company has already completed a series of pre-clinical studies to test the functionality of their device and its biocompatibility.
The improved heart surgery system consists of a conduit with proprietary technology inside that allows the conduit to be securely attached to the beating heart. Surgeons can then deliver therapeutic devices, such as heart valves or left ventricular assist devices, into the beating heart without loss of blood or exposure to air. Once a therapeutic device has been delivered and surgery is complete, the company's system closes and seals the access site with a biocompatible implant. The closure site can be reopened if necessary.
"By minimizing the incision size to gain access to the beating heart and eliminating the need for conventional sutures, our system improves safety, decreases procedure time and reduces the technical challenges associated with these new minimally invasive procedures," explained Vinod Thourani, an associate professor of surgery and associate director of the Structural Heart Center in Emory University's Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.