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Mu Catheter

University of Sydney

  • Cardiovascular Early-Mid Career Researcher Grant
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 22 May, 2020
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Pierre Qian

Project summary

Microwave ablation system for treating hypertension.

What is the issue for NSW?

Hypertension is a disease affecting over one billion people worldwide. It is the strongest modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. Despite multiple medications, up to one in eight patients fail to achieve blood pressure control. Overly active kidney nerves are a driver for hypertension.

Using a minimally invasive procedure where catheters are placed into the kidney artery, it is possible to ablate (inactivate with heat) these nerves as they course around the artery. This is called Renal Denervation (RDN).

Currently available RDN devices use radiofrequency energy that burns the inside of the artery and do not penetrate deep enough to reach all the nerves; resulting in incomplete denervation and inconsistent therapeutic efficacy. Furthermore, no clinically feasible method has been available to assess kidney nerve function during the procedure to determine denervation.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Dr Qian is a Cardiologist and with his team at Westmead Hospital and the University of Sydney, have created the Mu Catheter, an RDN device that uses microwave energy to ablate kidney nerves. They have showed that the prototype Mu Catheter can effectively destroy the vast majority of kidney nerves without injury to the artery.

They also discovered a useful method to test kidney nerve function. A ganglion called the aorticorenal ganglion (ARG) sends nerves to the kidney. Using a catheter, they can electrically stimulate this ganglion and make the kidney artery constrict. The absence of this response can show that the kidney has been denervated. This is a simple test that can be used during a RDN procedure to confirm treatment effect.

This grant will fund a project examining the safety and efficacy of an industrially designed preclinical version of the Mu Catheter and the use of ARG stimulation in guiding renal denervation to treat hypertension. The team’s findings may have important implications in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease for patients who have difficulty controlling blood pressure or prefer to be on fewer blood pressure medications.