Sometimes, biomedical innovations benefit a small, specialized group of patients. In fact, supporting research that’s focused on rare diseases and conditions is part of our job at the IURTC.
IURTC Business Development Manager Brad Fravel works with several IU faculty devising so-called “humanitarian use” inventions. One item fitting this description is a specialized heart pump invented by IU pediatric surgeon Mark Rodefeld. The temporarily implanted pump helps oxygenate a newborn child’s blood while surgeons more efficiently repair the tiny heart that only has a single ventricle.
The device, still in the development phase, will have a major impact on the lives of about 1,500 babies – and their families – every year. That is how many children are born in the US with this deadly heart defect.
Why go to so much effort for such a small patient base? Because the work will help families in a unique and difficult situation. Because it will save money and lives. And it’s important that university-based tech transfer groups like ours support humanitarian inventions like these.
Currently Dr. Rodefeld’s viscous impeller pump is supported by a National Institutes of Health grant, but the NIH funds can’t take the pump across the finish line. We would love to see funding interest come from a company that’s committed to medical devices for children.
The animation below illustrates how the pump works.