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Brunel University Develops a Unique Double-Action, Easy-Fit Cardiac Pump

Brunel University's Institute for Bioengineering (BIB) today announces the development of an innovative intravascular pump that, unlike traditional heart pumps, does not require invasive surgery to be fitted. The pump also has a unique double action, offloading the weak heart during systole (the phase during which the heart is pumping out oxygenated blood to all the other organs), and then increasing the blood in the opposite direction (to the coronary arteries, which in turn feed the cardiac muscle itself).

Cardiovascular pumps have been proven to extend the lives of patients with severe heart disease. However, most pumps require major surgery to be fitted - a further risk for those suffering from heart disease. The new pump, developed by a team of academics at West London's Brunel University, and the Royal Brompton Hospital will be planted in the body through a fairly simple technique similar to that used in placing stents in blocked arteries.

The new technique involves mounting the pump in a stent and delivering it on a deflated balloon to the desired position, via an incision usually made in the groin area. Once in place, the pump and stent remain and the balloon is withdrawn. The successfully installed pump may be powered wirelessly, via coils placed on the skin.

The pump has been adapted to sit in the upper aorta, where it helps the heart's left ventricle pump blood to the body. It also pumps a sufficient amount of blood in the opposite direction, to ensure adequate coronary flow.

Comments Dr. Ashraf Khir, from Brunel University, who is developing the pump in conjunction with Dr. Michael Henein, of the Royal Brompton Hospital: “Dr Henein and I are developing this pump to try to sidestep the traditional downsides of existing pumps - that they require full open-heart surgery to insert and so can't be easily removed if they're not needed or if they malfunction.“

'Dr Henein adds: "I had the idea for this pump when I observed that the most successful heart failure medication worked by reducing the pressure on the ventricle. But this medication does not always work in all patients and may carry side effects. I wanted to produce a pump that reduces pressure on the ventricle as an alternative to the medication."

“We're in talks with a couple of organisations with a view to bringing the pump to market as soon as possible.“ Dr Khir concluded.

Cardiovacular disease is the UK's biggest killer - more than one in three people die from it. It is responsible for the majority of deaths among males, with more women suffering from heart disease than from breast cancer. The British Heart Foundation estimates that 2.5 million people in the UK suffer from heart disease - and that cardiovascular disease is estimated to cost the UK economy just under £26 billion per year (over £434 per capita).

Notes to editors

Brunel 2006 - A Year of Celebration
2006 is a milestone for both Brunel University and Brunel the man - 40 and 200 years old respectively. The University is staging a number of events throughout 2006 to mark the double anniversary and celebrate the achievements of the University and our iconic namesake.

In adopting the name of arguably the most famous of Victorian engineers, the University continually seeks to emulate his qualities: ingenuity and creativity, practicality and thoroughness, together with a vision of how to improve the developments of his age.

With over £160 million being invested in the Brunel University campus at Uxbridge, the University is looking forward to its next 40 years at the centre of ingenuity and vision.

For more information on Brunel 2006 celebrations, visit: /2006/calendar.