Cardiovascular disease causes 1 in every 4 deaths, making it the leading cause of death worldwide.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a type of cardiovascular disease in which the coronary arteries are narrowed due to the build-up of fatty tissue inside the artery, ultimately limiting blood supply to the heart. Blockages in coronary arteries can have severe consequences, from shortness of breath to heart attacks. A standard treatment for CAD patients is coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, a procedure that redirects blood around the blocked artery. Each year, 1.5 million bypass surgeries are performed worldwide, requiring approximately 3 million grafts. Grafts are blood vessels, such as veins or arteries, harvested from another part of the body and surgically attached above and below the blocked area of the coronary artery. Blood can bypass the blockage through this graft and supply the heart muscle with blood. 50% of all grafts fail within 10 years, resulting in CAD patients needing repeat surgery, further increasing risk and costs, and decreasing the patient’s quality of life. These complications are highly traumatic for the CAD patient and very costly for the healthcare system.
80% of grafts are saphenous veins, which are harvested from the leg. Vein harvesting leaves long, deep wounds and involves various severe complications, including infections, deep venous thrombosis, and oedema (swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in the body’s tissue). Additionally, amputees or patients that do not possess enough healthy veins may not be able to undergo the harvesting phase of the bypass surgery.
As of today, no synthetic graft is available for CAD patients needing bypass surgery. BioDGraft is filling a much-needed gap in the cardiovascular disease market.
BioDGraft aims to reduce patient risk and health care costs by creating a graft that lasts for life.
A team of inventors from the Medical University of Vienna and TU Vienna have developed a novel, bioabsorbable polymer and process technology to create interconnected microporous structures. These features allow the body to heal itself through fast cell infiltration. Over time, new cells form around and within the polymer, creating a functional blood vessel while the polymer slowly absorbs and disintegrates. This newly created blood vessel has the potential to last for the patient’s life without any stimulus for chronic infection, calcification, or the need for repeat surgery. This invention eliminates the need for vein harvesting, leaving no additional wound, risk of infection, or pain. It is a door-opener for patients with severe diabetes, varicose veins, and amputations, as well as the cardiovascular surgical team. The invention also decreases procedure time and the patient’s hospital stay by at least 1 day, meaning there is a decrease in hospitalisation costs.
Currently, BioDGraft is in the pre-clinical development stage and has carried out small animal studies with a 6-month follow-up. Additionally, the company has secured patents on their polymer materials, design and application by a worldwide exclusive licence.
Meet the team
Prof. Bruno Podesser
Professor in cardiac surgery. Head of Center for Biomadical Research Medical University Vienna