Medicine, doubling the life span of heart valves: a new method developed by a startup from Padua
BCI - BioCompatibility Innovation is the name of the startup based in Padua that has developed a method to improve the performance of heart valve prostheses of animal origin in order to ensure they have twice the life span of the current standards. BCI includes Filippo Naso, a former Professor of the University of Padua, researcher Alessandro Gandaglia and physician and entrepreneur Ugo Stefanelli.
The procedure, which will be tested in collaboration with Gemelli General Hospital in Rome, is based on the inactivation of alpha-Gal, a small molecule expressed in all mammals with the exception of man, which is responsible for the adverse reactions that occur with the current heart valve prostheses of biological type.
“This molecule – said Filippo Naso – is the main responsible for the onset of immune reactions that lead to degeneration and dysfunctionality of the valve bioprosthesis implanted”.
The study conducted by BCI, published in the Tissue Enginnering Part A journal, is based on a treatment called FACTA, which deactivates alpha-Gal antigen and inhibits over 85% of the calcification processes. Following the trial, the pre-clinical phase will start in mid-2018 under the European project which involves Gemelli General hospital and Hannover hospital.
The healthcare and economic impact will be considerable. In 2016, 400,000 heart valve prostheses of animal origin were sold, with a calculated expenditure of approximately 14 billion dollars for new procedures of valve replacement or needed due to deterioration of implanted bioprostheses. The technology developed by BCI seems to ensure a considerable saving in public health expenditure.