Mayo-Boston Scientific Collaboration Advances with New Heart Surgery Device
An intellectual property collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and Boston Scientific to speed the development of new medical devices was announced with fanfare last year: The two parties promised to create innovative solutions to “pressing medical problems” with funds made available thanks to a two-year suspension of the 2.3 percent federal medical device tax.
At the top of the list of touted projects was a new type of catheter designed to allow heart surgeons to become much more efficient when performing aortic valve replacements. Now, in a sign of progress for the collaboration, the company and the clinic have jointly filed a patent application for the new device.
Called a self-centering guide catheter, it is being co-developed by a team led by Mayo cardiologist Dr. Gurpreet Sandhu and Boston Scientific research fellow Roger McGowan. The device is meant to help solve a pervasive issue in heart valve replacement surgery: efficiently threading a guidewire through a narrowed aortic valve opening in a heart affected by calcification.
In such valve replacement surgeries, doctors must pass a guidewire through the shrunken opening, which may have shifted from its normal spot in the center of the heart valve leaflets due to the progression of the disease. It’s a messy task at best, complicated by the heart’s movement and the strong currents of blood its beating generates.
The process currently requires surgeons to probe along the surface of the valve with the guidewire to find the opening, which means more time with a patient exposed to X-rays and anesthesia. The sometimes-lengthy probing can even cause damage to the valve and arteries by dislodging calcified debris.
The new device, however, seeks to improve that situation by efficiently centering the guidewire over the opening prior to advancing it through the diseased heart valve. It includes a covered basket engineered to self-center over the opening by aligning precisely with the direction of the blood flow.
Along with the guide catheter, Boston Scientific and Mayo are also collaborating on an effort to use the company’s Precision Spectra Spinal Cord Stimulator System to block the neural signals that trigger shortness of breath and muscle fatigue during exercise among patients with heart failure.
That study will evaluate if blocking signals from organs to the brain can moderate control of the heart and vasculature for these patients. The stimulator system is currently indicated in the United States as an aid in the management of chronic intractable pain of the trunk and/or limbs, including unilateral or bilateral pain associated with failed back surgery syndrome, intractable low back pain and leg pain.
The collaboration is being managed through Mayo Clinic Ventures, which serves the clinic by finding partners that can bring Mayo's inventions to the marketplace to improve medicine everywhere. Its mission is to commercialize clinic technologies for the benefit of patients worldwide while also generating revenue to support its own clinical practice, research and education.