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Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Involved in Projects To Develop Nation's First Heart Assist Devices for Young Children
Date:4/3/2008

Heart Center experts helping to develop first implantable and external

pediatric heart pumps

PITTSBURGH, April 3, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC -- a national leader in the use of lifesaving ventricular assist devices (VADs) for children in heart failure -- is part of a collaboration that recently has been awarded a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop an external heart pump designed specifically for small children.

VADs are mechanical devices that take over the pumping action of the heart and offer lifesaving support, most often acting as a bridge to keep patients alive until a donor heart becomes available for transplantation. There are VADs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adults and larger adolescents in the United States, but none are designed and approved for use in infants and toddlers.

Cardiac experts in Children's Hospital's Heart Center currently are involved in two separate projects to develop external and implantable VADs. It is estimated that as many as 1,000 children annually may benefit from these technologies, according to Peter D. Wearden, MD, PhD, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon and director of Pediatric Mechanical Cardiopulmonary Support at Children's.

"Unfortunately, because this is a relatively small market, companies that make medical devices historically have not focused their attention on pediatric VADs," Dr. Wearden said. "Because of this, our options for treating young children in heart failure have been extremely limited. Our hope is that these two projects will lead to the first pediatric devices being approved by the FDA for use in the United States."

Children's and medical device manufacturer Levitronix(R) LLC received a $2.3 million National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to complete development of, and to clinical
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SOURCE Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
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