CU technology converts complex medical images into physical models through 3D printing technology

AURORA, Colo. (Nov. 23, 2009) – ValveXchange Inc. recently executed a license agreement with the University of Colorado for a process to transform cardiac imaging data into high-quality three-dimensional models used for heart valve product development, clinician training, and pre-procedure planning. The licensed technology is based on the work of Adam Hansgen, BS; John D. Carroll, MD; Shiuh-Yung (James) Chen, PhD; and Michael Kim, all of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine Department of Cardiology.

The CU technology converts data from routine medical imaging of soft tissues (ultrasounds and CT and MRI scans) into 3D models, which are then transformed into physical models using 3D printers. ValveXchange will use the technology in conjunction with its implantable heart valve program. ValveXchange is developing a novel artificial heart valve that has all the advantages of today’s tissue-based heart valves, but can be implanted and replaced through a small incision between the ribs. This approach is expected to replace traditional open-heart surgery for many heart valve procedures.

The licensed 3D heart modeling technology offers a unique opportunity to develop the valve technology using patient-specific heart anatomy examples, and later to train physicians in implant techniques in a highly realistic manner. Cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes, are responsible for the death of seventeen million individuals worldwide annually. Improved valve designs coupled with more advanced clinician training and patient-specific procedure planning are expected to significantly improve both treatment and quality of life of patients requiring these implants.

“We expect this advance in 3D heart modeling to provide ValveXchange with a real advantage in the market space,” said ValveXchange CEO Larry Blankenship. “By being able to work with a model of the specific patient’s heart before the heart valve replacement procedure, physicians are expected to be able to decrease procedure time and increase success rates. This will be one more reason for them to select the advanced heart valve technology being developed by ValveXchange.”

“The models are a powerful tool for procedure planning and physician and patient education, and they will complement ValveXchange’s expertise in medical device development,” added Paul Tabor of the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office. “We are hopeful the marriage of these technologies results in a leap forward in the design, testing and performance of implantable heart valves.”

ValveXchange was recently notified of a grant award of $250,000 to develop this technology under Colorado’s Early Stage Bioscience Company Grant Program, one of several funding initiatives created by the State of Colorado in 2008 to accelerate the commercialization of bioscience technologies developed at the state’s research institutions. This state funding is matched by research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Matching funds from the state are critical to filling in the funding gaps that invariably arise when rapidly moving technology companies rely on a centralized funding system designed to support basic research with typically a 5-year time horizon,” noted Dr. Ivan Vesely, a PhD biophysicist, an NIH-funded scientist and founder of ValveXchange.

Contact: Caitlin Jenney, 303.315.6376, [email protected]

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