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Landmark patent granted to artificial heart developer Medquest.

MedQuest Products, Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT; 801-355-6255 ) has been recently awarded a landmark patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the essential technology for the first practical long-term artificial heart.

MedQuest is presently completing the development of this revolutionary, magnetically-suspended, implantable blood pump, known as the HeartQuest artificial heart. The HeartQuest pump offers heart failure patients improved reliability and longevity over existing implantable mechanical devices because it contains no friction-based internal parts that are prone to wear out over time. Drs. Paul Allaire and Eric Maslen, engineering professors at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), and co-inventors, explain that, "This feat can be accomplished because the HeartQuest artificial heart has a rotor suspended in a magnetic field so there are no internal touching parts."

Each year in the United States, more than 250,000 people die from severe heart failure, and more than a million are hospitalized. While heart transplantation is an option for some patients, only about 2,000 donor human hearts are annually transplanted. The limited life of existing blood pumps prevents their use in most heart failure patients.

"Because of the unique HeartQuest design, we believe it may add 10 to 20 years of quality life for hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise die of heart failure every year," says Dr. Don Olsen, president of the Utah Artificial Heart Institute (Salt Lake City, UT),, and a co-inventor. Besides limited life, the large size of existing blood pumps also excludes many heart failure patients. The clinical HeartQuest pump will be at least a third of the size of existing devices.

The HeartQuest pump will immeasurably benefit heart failure patients in desperate need of a cost-effective, reliable, small artificial heart that provides a high quality of life. "This pump will enable recipients to return to normal activities, such as go back to work, and enjoy moderate exercise, such as hiking and golf," says James W. Long, MD, director of the artificial heart clinical program at LDS Hospital, and a co- inventor.

An implantable-size, magnetically-suspended HeartQuest prototype has already been designed, assembled, and tested. The HeartQuest design for clinical use is being completed. The clinical HeartQuest pump will be tested in animals by the end of this year.

The HeartQuest artificial heart development will continue to be supported through funding by the LDS Hospital-Deseret Foundation's Heart & Lung Research Foundation. This philanthropic-based support has been complemented by a recent 4-year, $4.2 million National Institutes of Health grant. The HeartQuest is the only blood pump funded by such a National Institutes of Health grant. The team expects to soon obtain additional financial support to enable clinical use of the HeartQuest artificial heart in 2002.

The HeartQuest development is being conducted by a partnership between MedQuest Products Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT), the Utah Artificial Heart Institute, and Intermountain Health Care's LDS Hospital (Salt Lake City, UT). They are being assisted by the University of Virginia, Magnetic Moments LLC (Goleta, CA), and Antakamatics Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA).

"Our team's world leadership in artificial heart development is reaffirmed by this patent, and by the rapid progress we are making towards clinical use of the small and reliable HeartQuest blood pump," says Mr. Gill Bearnson, lead engineer, and a co-inventor.
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Comment:Landmark patent granted to artificial heart developer Medquest.
Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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