Sep 29 2015 Posted: 15:18 IST

NUI Galway researcher is author of paper contributing to the design of an innovative device to close heart defects without placing patients on bypass


Researchers, including four Irish researchers, while based at the Wyss Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston Children’s Hospital have jointly designed a fundamentally different way to implant an innovative patch to close a heart tissue defect that eradicates the need to place a patient on bypass. Their work was published recently in Science Translational Medicine, and features as the cover article.

Ellen Roche, PhD and a graduate from the Biomedical Engineering Program at NUI Galway was the first author of the paper. Roche completed the work published in Science Translational Medicine during her PhD at Harvard University and is a current research fellow at NUI Galway under Professor Peter McHugh, working on a project in Biomedical Engineering in the area of novel cardiac drug delivery device development. The PhD scholar is a future faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The researchers invented a flexible, UV light-containing catheter that can be inserted through a vessel, and directed to the defect within the heart. Two balloons, one on either side of the hole, are inflated when the catheter is in place. One of the balloon’s surfaces has a mirror-reflecting quality that reflects UV light from a small internal fibre optic to cure the adhesive. All components of the device are soft and can deflate for easy loading and removal through the outer catheter shaft.

Dr Roche said: “This system has proven successful in closing tissue defects in a number of experiments described in the paper. As well as correcting heart defects, the patch and the catheter can be used in a variety of situations - for example, abdominal hernia repair or peptic ulcer closure.”

The other Irish authors who contributed to the research with Dr Roche were Professor Conor Walsh, joint senior author and a Trinity College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who runs the Harvard Biodesign Lab, Dr Eoin O’Cearbhaill, Lecturer at UCD and a Biomedical Engineering and PhD graduate from NUI Galway, and William Whyte, a current PhD student at Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

View the paper on Science Translational Medicine website:
http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/7/306/306ra149.abstract

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