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Pelham company ready to test cardiac pump

Union Leader Correspondent

September 15. 2013 4:42PM
Design Mentor Inc. is partnering with Dartmouth College to conduct testing on a patented pulsatile pressure cardiac pump, the VentriFlo. (COURTESY)

PELHAM — A small, local medical device company hopes to make a big impact in the world of open-heart surgery. Design Mentor Inc. is partnering with Dartmouth College to conduct testing on a patented pulsatile pressure cardiac pump, the VentriFlo.

Unlike the existing continuous flow pumping process, the VentriFlo mimics the physiological flow of blood from the human heart. For Design Mentor CEO Doug Vincent, the idea and design for the VentriFlo has been a process more than a decade in the making.

Vincent helped found Design Mentor in the late 1990s, and the company began providing consulting services for other medical device companies.

However, with a mechanical engineering degree from MIT and a background working for several leading medical technology companies on blood and blood pumping technology, Vincent began looking at a better way to pump blood into patients undergoing open-heart and other surgeries.

“In 2002, we began working nights and weekends on our own technology, and that became the VentriFlo,” Vincent said.

The testing on the VentriFlo is made possible in part by a Granite State Technology Innovation Grant from the NH Innovation Research Center (NHIRC), which supports projects under development in the private sector.

“We’re striving to help the company reach full commercial development and regulatory approval in a much shorter time span than if they had been left to their own resources,” said NHIRC executive director Marc Sedam.

The device could increase safety for patients and save hospitals money, according to Ryan Halter, an assistant professor in Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering.

“This device safely pumps oxygenated blood back into the body during cardiopulmonary bypass surgery with blood pressures and flow rates similar to native heart circulation,” he said. “By using these pumps to mimic natural physiology, patients will do better with fewer post-surgery complications, doctors will have better reported outcomes, and hospitals will save money.”

One of the assumptions the clinical testing could help overcome is the notion that the existing continuous flow pump technology used in hospitals is as efficient and safe as what can be provided by a pulsatile pressure cardiac pump, according to Vincent.

“The continuous flow pumps didn’t not work,” Vincent said. “But as it turns out, there has always been some data that the pulsatile flow has been better than the continuous flow.”

In addition to the NHIRC grant and the work with Dartmouth, Design Mentor is partnering with people for additional studies and has submitted a grant to the American Heart Association.

“We want to show that patients can recover faster and that there are less possible complications,” Vincent said. “Once this technology is clinically vetted and receives proper regulatory approval, the VentriFlo has the ability to dramatically improve the state of care for the 1 million-plus worldwide patients who undergo open-heart surgery every year.”

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