Trinity researchers has partnered with researchers from National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), AMBER and Harvard University to develop a breakthrough tool that allows cardiac therapy to be delivered directly to the heart after a cardiac arrest. The tool, named Therepi, is implanted under the skin and provides targeted treatment after a heart attack.
The study, which was published in the scientific journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, is described to be the first step towards non-invasive cardiac therapy. Therepi provides a reservoir under the patient’s skin that can be filled and refilled with drugs or cells that target the heart directly. The tool is to be placed just outside the surface of the heart via keyhole surgery, and the reservoir can then be refilled using a port installed just underneath the skin.
The device is intended to avoid the toxic side effects of many current treatments. These treatments also often do not target their intended location and require multiple doses in order to be effective. A pre-clinical study has shown that when stem cells are repeatedly refilled to the Therepi reservoir, it can increase heart function over four weeks after the attack.
Professor Garry Duffy, AMBER Investigator and NUIG professor, says that the study “builds on a strong trans-Atlantic collaboration which has seen multiple researchers train at MIT and Harvard from Irish Institutions”. Meanwhile, Professor Ellen Roche of MIT stated: “This is only the beginning of multiple ongoing studies that will use this system as a platform device for therapy delivery to the diseased heart, and as a research tool to further scientific understanding of the effects of a localised, refillable treatment regimen at various diseased organs.”
The team is currently assessing how Therepi can offer potential cures for other diseases such as Type One Diabetes.