Biomedical engineers at University of Limerick have come up with new medical technology to treat narrowed or obstructed blood vessels. Their technology has just been licensed to the Galway-based medical devices company Clada Medical.
The researchers are hoping that the device will improve success rates in angioplasty procedures. Right now, more than 1m angioplasty procedures are carried out globally each year.
Angioplasty is the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel. During this treatment, particles of the fatty deposits can become dislodged and enter the blood stream. This can block other arteries and trigger strokes or heart attacks, explained Dr Michael Walsh, principal investigator and lead inventor of the new device at University of Limerick (UL).
While embolic protection devices are often used to capture and remove the dislodged fatty deposits, Walsh said the new device created at UL combines angioplasty balloon and embolic protection technologies. He said this allows for continuous blood flow during the procedure.
“In practice, this means the angioplasty balloon can be left in a full inflated state in the artery for a longer period of time than is currently possible. This will increase the efficiency of the angioplasty procedure and offers significant potential as a platform for drug-device combinations," said Walsh.
Clada Medical is an Irish-owned company that provides medical device design, research and development, testing and OEM manufacturing services from its clean-room facilities in Galway. The company has particular expertise in balloon mould manufacturing and custom balloon/catheter design.
Ray Blowick, CEO of Clada Medical, said today that the application of the UL invention to perfusion balloon technology would be very important for the future of the company.
"Our commercial strategy includes growing our company through the development and licensing of new technologies which will lead to new jobs and increased exports in this important sector for Irish industry," said Blowick.
Enterprise Ireland funded the UL research. It was undertaken at the Centre for Applied Biomedical Engineering Research, which is based in the Materials and Surface Science Institute at UL.