Ways European BioTechs are Fighting Cardiovascular Issues
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Ways European BioTechs are Fighting Cardiovascular Issues

By Healthcare Tech Outlook | Monday, October 21, 2019

One French MedTech is working on a promising solution to the supply issue–a completely artificial heart. The solution benefits those patients facing a long wait for a donor, along with the ones who are not suitable for donor transplants due to additional health issues.

FREMONT, CA: Cardiovascular diseases are proving to be the leading cause of mortality worldwide, making up over 30 percent of all deaths globally. While there are several established practices on the market, there is still a need for more efficient procedures, so do biotechnology companies hold the answer?

It is a known fact that a proper diet, frequent exercise, and avoiding smoking are the most potent tools available to keep the heart-healthy. There are several drugs on the market targeting diverse types of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure-lowering antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering statins, to name a few. Conversely, without new technological and therapeutic approaches, cardiovascular conditions will likely continue to cause harm for the foreseeable future. So, how can biotechnologies contribute to the field? The human heart in the medical form is anything but easy, and the sphere has had some high profile medical failures in the last few years.

A particular biopharmaceutical’s once-promising cell therapy for heart failure was eventually abandoned after unsatisfactory clinical trial outcomes. Likewise, another business has encountered repetitive clinical trial failures for its lead cardiovascular disease drug.

On the other hand, there are grounds to be positive about the future. Inconceivable progress is being made not only in preventing the onset of cardiovascular diseases but also in administering them when things go wrong. 

Next-Generation Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

In the hunt for ever-more effective therapies, which can reduce cholesterol levels and lower cardiovascular disease risk, many new proteins and genes, have been discovered. The discoveries are targeted to proffer enhanced protection for the heart. 

In particular, a gene named PCSK9 has drawn immense industry attention. PCSK9 stalls the elimination of cholesterol from the blood, giving rise to risks of cardiovascular problems. Those individuals having mutations that disrupt the PCSK9 gene have far lower cholesterol levels ensuing 80 percent lower risk of a heart attack. 

Besides, drugs that inhibit the PCSK9 protein have already begun to enter Europe over the last few years. Particularly drugs such as Amgen’s Repatha and Sanofi’s Praulent are seeing a wide prominence. Furthermore, several other approaches for targeting PCSK9 are also being investigated. One biopharmaceutical company, for instance, is working on an RNA interference therapy to hush the appearance of the PCSK9 gene, while another is developing a peptide-based anti-PCSK9 vaccine.

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Can Automated Organs be the Solution?

Bringing in lifestyle changes and protective therapies can help prevent heart failure, but for some, the alteration may not work. Once a heart starts failing, there are fewer effective treatments, and a heart transplant more often is the only feasible choice.

The work on crafting artificial hearts stretches back to decades, but the challenge of creating a device has proven to be tremendously difficult. The tool needs to match the dependability of a human heart, resist the pressures of the circulatory system, and evade rejection by the body. The process brings its own set of difficulties—the demand for donor’s heart far outdoes supply. Thus, resulting in patients spending months or even years on waiting lists before a suitable organ becomes available. 

One French MedTech is working on a promising solution to the supply issue–a completely artificial heart. The solution benefits those patients facing a long wait for a donor, along with the ones who are not suitable for donor transplants due to additional health issues. The business’s artificial heart has some key innovations that they believe makes their device a game-changer for the industry.

The business uses biomaterials made from treated animal tissues that are less toxic to the body and lessen the risk of blood clots forming. The formation of blood clots is a problem regularly encountered by medical equipment. The tool is also embedded with sensors letting it to astutely regulate its blood flow rate in response to the patient’s metabolic requirements.

Since the first successful human implantation with the device back in 2013, the company’s ongoing international trial has shown hopeful interim results. At least 70 percent of heart failure patients who received the equipment survived for six months or until receiving a heart transplant.

The Use of Bioprinted Hearts Whenever Required

The proposal of printing tissues, cells, tissues, and organs using layers of bio-ink made from living cells may seem futuristic. But as often happens in the field of biotechnology, the prospect can arrive much faster than expected.

While the field of 3D bioprinting is still in its formative stage, the technology is improving rapidly. The tool has gained notable traction over the last few years, leading to the obligatory question: Will organizations be printing full human hearts for use in transplants? There has been a lot of apprehension around the prospect. Notably, following the news earlier where a group of researchers announced the first successful 3D printing of a human heart using reprogrammed cells from a donor.

Printing custom replacement hearts is still in its testing state. There are a lot of areas where bioprinting could have a considerable impact on patients with cardiovascular problems in the near-term. A biotechnology startup’s bioprinting technology is being used in numerous projects to develop 3D heart tissue models for drug research and screening into cardiovascular diseases, as well as for regenerative medicine. 

Cardiovascular disease will positively continue to be one of the most widespread medical conditions across the globe well into the 21st century. However, with the appearance of fundamentally new approaches in prevention, regeneration, and transplantation, heart diseases may gradually become easier to circumvent and live on.

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