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Establishing a centre for pre-clinical evaluation of cardiovascular devices

University of Sydney

  • Cardiovascular Early-Mid Career Researcher Grant
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 22 May, 2020
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor Steven Wise

Project summary

Developing new materials and devices to better treat cardiovascular disease, including grafts, stents and valves.

What is the issue for NSW?

This capacity building scheme recognises the leading role cardiovascular disease plays in illness and death for the people of NSW and Australia. Surgery or device implantation is increasingly the approach for many patients, though we continue to rely on materials and implants developed using old technology.

Implants are typically made from metal alloys (e.g. stainless steel) or hydrophobic plastics we use every day in our homes such as Gore-Tex (rain jackets) or PET (drink bottles). These materials are chosen for their durability and ease of mass manufacture, though they promote blood clots and interact poorly with vascular cells, driving chronic inflammation.

Accordingly, bypass grafts made from these materials uniformly fail in small diameter applications such as the coronaries or in the legs. Metal stents have serious shortcomings when deployed in the legs. The lack of effective and biocompatible devices means that improved alternatives are urgently needed. Development of new biomaterials with appropriate mechanical and biological properties would revolutionise the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

What does the research aim to do and how?

A/Professor Wise’s group is developing new materials and devices to better treat cardiovascular disease, including grafts, stents and valves. The multi-disciplinary team consists of bioengineers, biologists, physicists and surgeons working together to find solutions for the most pressing unmet needs in cardiovascular medicine.

To evaluate and drive them toward translation, the team have developed a suite of lab-based assays, complimented by small and medium animal models and comprehensive histopathology. At present, large animal models required before first-in-human evaluation are commonly outsourced interstate or overseas, a resource and cost intensive approach yielding poor quality results.

This project aims to establish a Centre for Pre-clinical Evaluation of Cardiovascular Devices in NSW, aiming to bridge the divide between the lab bench and first-in-human trials. With important components of these pathways already in place, the funding will close the current gaps, leveraging existing support and expertise from Sydney Local Health District, and access to world-class facilities.