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Start-up CardiacBooster is developing a small but powerful pump that can pump blood more effectively into a patient’s heart visa their groin. The device helps cardiologists during the critical phase shortly after a patient experiences a heart attack. Cardiac arrest that damages the heart muscle. In some patients (about 5 percent) this leads to less blood being pumped around the body which invariably means that organs are not supplied with enough blood. This in turn can cause them to function more poorly. In some cases, this deterioration is so severe that the patient dies as a result. 

A kind of balloon

“Our device works like a kind of balloon that can suck in and push out blood,” says Daniël van Dort, creator of the technology and Chief Science Officer and co-founder of CardiacBooster, a spin-off of the Radboud University Medical Center (Radboudumc) in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. “You improve the strength of the heart and are able to pump more blood around with this pump,” People with a severe infarction, for example, tend to often suffer from kidney damage, which requires them to undergo dialysis. This kidney damage can be reduced by using the device. This significantly improves the quality of life of these patients.  

Simple insertion

There are more devices out there that can pump a patient’s blood around. But these are comparatively large for the amount of blood they can pump. “What is unique about our device, is that it is easily inserted into the heart of patients through the groin,” says Van Dort. 

The pump can get to work there straight away. In addition, it can also be used preventively in patients who have a weak heart function and who are scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure. Van Dort: “You can prevent someone from going from bad to worse and sustaining damage in their organs because not enough blood is pumped around during surgery.”

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1 = outflow valve 2 = collapsible cup 3 = inflatable balloon (CardiacBooster)

Idea notebook

As a medical student, Van Dort was already enthralled by the workings of the heart. “In the lecture hall, I kept an idea notebook in which I wrote down medical problems that I wanted to solve. For example, during my studies I learned that people suffering from a heart attack are given medication to limit the repercussions. I found that fascinating: you’re trying to solve a mechanical problem, a heart that’s not working properly, with a lubricant. Couldn’t you just make sure that the heart works better?”

“After I graduated, I started working on that. It literally took place on the kitchen table. So now, five prototypes later, we have a device that can address that mechanical problem much better.” In addition to his work for CardiacBooster, Van Dort still works as a researcher in the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Radboudumc. 

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Daniel van Dort, CSO CardiacBooster

Best start-up

CardiacBooster was founded in 2018 and Florian Ludwig of Thuja Capital hopped on board as CEO. In order to develop the product, CardiacBooster received a financial injection from Thuja, the Radboudumc and the RedMedTech Discovery Fund in recent years. Te latter is a fund for innovative start-ups in life sciences & health in Gelderland. In 2019, CardiacBooster was named one of the ten best scientific start-ups in the Netherlands. The company has its base on the Novio Tech Campus in Nijmegen.

First study in humans

At the moment, the pump is still being studied in laboratory animals. If all goes well, the first study in humans is due to take place next year. Ten people are now working at CardiacBooster and the company is looking for further funding. “I know a lot about how the heart works and how to make sure that you can pump the blood around more efficiently. But if you really want to get to the bottom of how it works, that takes a lot of time and money to research.” CardiacBooster hopes to bring this innovation, once approved, to the market by 2023.

Also interesting: Gelderland: Hub for medical Start-ups