Innovation that helps locate and treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias

The Research Foundation of SUNY, which supports the advancement of education, research and discovery at the State University of New York, has announced it signed a licensing agreement with Biosense Webster Inc. for the rights to an Upstate Medical University innovation that helps locate and treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias.

The agreement provides Biosense Webster, headquartered in Diamond Bar, Calif., with exclusive, worldwide rights to a patent pending algorithm discovered by a research team headed by Omer Berenfeld, Ph.D., research assistant professor of pharmacology at The Institute for Cardiovascular Research at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y.

“This is another example of Upstate fulfilling its mission of improving the health of the people we serve through biomedical research,” said SUNY Upstate Medical University President Gregory L. Eastwood, M.D. “We are very proud of Dr. Berenfeld and his colleagues, and the outstanding research they are doing.”

While looking for a reliable way to differentiate the source sustaining an arrhythmia during cardiac fibrillation, which often results from a single source located in a specific confined region of the heart, Berenfeld and his Upstate Medical University team developed an innovative method that in the experimental stage:

  • Rapidly and automatically localizes the fibrillation source
  • Removes the “guess work” from search procedures
  • Provides a specific target for termination

“By performing a spectral analysis of the local electrical activity in the heart, we hope to be able to identify with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity the source that sustains the arrhythmia, providing a robust target for intervention and termination,” Berenfeld said. The development was supported by grants provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association.

Arrhythmias are disorders of the regular rhythmic beating of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, they are common - as many as 2.2 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation (one type of rhythm problem). Arrhythmias can occur in a healthy heart and be of minimal consequence. They also may indicate a serious problem and lead to heart disease, stroke or sudden cardiac death.

“This licensing agreement is just one example of how Research Foundation expertise and guidance helps convert SUNY-based technology into products, services and ventures,” said Vice Chancellor John J. O'Connor, president of The Research Foundation of SUNY. “Our technology transfer team plays a pivotal role in managing and nurturing SUNY ideas and discoveries to a stage where they can grow into commercially viable opportunities.”

Terms of the agreement with Biosense Webster were worked out by the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) of the Research Foundation, which was created to identify and protect University-developed intellectual property. The office serves as a catalyst for economic growth by creating partnerships with business and industry to further research and license inventions for public use. The Research Foundation ranks in the top 20 of U.S. patent-generating educational institutions. As of the end of fiscal 2004, more than 700 patents have been issued to the Research Foundation as a result of sponsored program activity, with inventions generating almost $13.4 million in royalties in fiscal 2004. According to the latest data available from the Association of University Technology Managers, The State University of New York is ahead of research universities like the University of Michigan and John Hopkins for royalties earned on inventions.

Information about SUNY technologies available for licensing is available at the Research Foundation's Technology Transfer Web site.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States educating more than 413,000 students in 6,688 fields of study on 64 campuses.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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