By: Frank Nelson
Goleta-based LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. is part of a team trying to save the lives of around 1,000 young children who die every year from problems related to ventricular failure.
The group, backed by a five-year, $4.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Healh, is working on the first heart blood pump device for infants.
Others involved in the Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device (PVAD) consortium are the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and MedQuest Products Inc. of Salt Lake City.
LaunchPoint Technologies says 30,000 new cases of congenital heart disease are diagnosed each year with an annual mortality rate of 5,000 to 6,000. At least 20 percent of these deaths are related to ventricular failure and would be candidates for an assistance device.
The only option today for infants and small children is an external system about the size of a fax machine that can only be used for a few weeks during which the child is completely immobalized. The device is considered a last alternative and the survival rate is only 38 percent.
The company says the primary obstacle in developing and implanted heart assist device for infants is the miniature size. The smallest blood pump on the market is too large to be implanted into small children or even petite adults.
LaunchPoint Technologies, a spinoff from UCSB, was co-founded 14 years ago by Brad, Alvin and David Paden. In 2001, the company joined forces with MedQuest to develop a miniature magnetically-levitated centrifugal blood pump.
The new PVAD consortium will apply its existing magnetic levitation technology to create a miniature pediatric-sized heart pump about the size of a quarter.
LaunchPoint says a promising benefit of an implanted heart assist device is that an infant heart, with the help of a support device, might be able to recover and thus eliminate the need for a heart transplant.
Links: Santa Barbara News-Press