An international team of researchers, led by Harvard University, have developed a refillable, implantable device, which sits directly on the heart and can deliver drugs and other therapies to treat the aftereffects of a heart attack.
The device, dubbed Therepi, is a small patch that is sutured onto the heart. The patch contains a sponge-like biomaterial that holds and releases therapies through the permeable surface of the device. The biomaterial can be connected to a port or pump outside the body when it needs to be refilled. In a pre-clinical study, the researchers demonstrated that Therepi can increase heart function for more than four weeks when stem cells are repeatedly delivered to the reservoir.
Residual scarring after a heart attack can lead to heart failure. Different therapies, including drugs, proteins and stem cells, could treat scarring but these treatments struggle to reach or stay at their intended target and often require multiple doses to work. This device solves for those challenges by allowing localized, replenishable, tunable therapy delivery. It paves the way for other devices to deliver multiple courses of therapies directly to diseased tissue.