A team of researchers from MIT have developed a novel refillable, implantable device that can be directly attached to a damaged heart and deliver drugs to treat the after-effects of a heart attack. The device called “Therepi” contains a sponge-like reservoir that attaches directly to the damaged heart tissue, and a refill line connects the reservoir to a port on or under the patient’s skin where therapies can be injected either by the patient or a healthcare professional, the researchers said.
“After a heart attack we could use this device to deliver therapy to prevent a patient from getting heart failure,” said Ellen Roche, Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“If the patient already has some degree of heart failure, we can use the device to attenuate the progression,” she added.
The reservoir can be implanted on the heart in just one surgical procedure as well as provides a unique opportunity for administering stem cell therapies. It acts as a cell factory.
Therepi, described in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, also addresses the problems with current drug delivery methods by administering localised, non-invasive therapies as many times as needed.
In a rat model, the device was shown to be effective in improving cardiac function after a heart attack. The researchers administered multiple doses of cells to a damaged heart throughout a four-week period.
The hearts that received multiple dosages of cells via therapy had more cardiac function than those who received only a single injection or no treatment at all.
Therepi could also be used as a tool to identify the exact dosage appropriate for a host of conditions, the researchers said.