CANet Investigator Dr. Drangova pioneers groundbreaking atrial fibrillation treatment

CANet | Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada > CANet Newsroom > Recent News > CANet Investigator Dr. Drangova pioneers groundbreaking atrial fibrillation treatment

For some of the best minds in cardiac care, the successful treatment of atrial fibrillation has been a moving target.

Until now.

CANet’s Commercialization grant is funding the development of the Catheter Contact-Force Controller (CFC), a pioneering device that will result in more effective atrial fibrillation (AF) treatments, fewer repeat procedures, and lower healthcare costs.

Dr. Drangova, a scientist at the Robarts Research Institute and a professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics in the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University, recently received CANet’s Commercialization Grant totaling $300,000, for her project, ‘Catheter Contact-Force Controller for Cardiac Ablation Therapy.’

Daniel Gelman, a CANet Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Trainee, is an electrical and computer engineer who invented and continues to enhance the CFC with Drangova. He first presented his research at the Heart Rhythm Society in San Francisco – the leading conference in cardiac electrophysiology, where he received an overwhelming amount of attention from the academic, clinical and industry arenas. His research poster received top prizes at the Imaging Network Ontario Symposium, London Health Research Day, and CANet annual meeting. He previously received a CANet Discovery Grant totaling $25,000.

“I greatly benefited from CANet’s HQP-trainee program,” Gelman says. “It provided valuable resources and opportunities for me to help strengthen my research and career development.”

AF is typically treated by inserting tiny tubes (‘catheters’) into the heart and delivering precise amounts of high-energy beams to ‘burn’ away faulty heart tissues responsible for arrhythmia.

But precision comes at a cost.

For example, due to a patient’s heartbeat and breathing, the distance between a catheter tip and the faulty heart tissue changes constantly, making it difficult to aim and get rid of it accurately. As a result, AF treatments are often incomplete and patients have to come back for a repeat treatment.

Enter the CANet-funded Catheter Contact-Force Controller (CFC) – a device the size of your smartphone.

Gelman’s device updates doctors on the precise location of the catheter tip with respect to the faulty heart tissue in real-time.

Doctors pick targets more efficiently and get rid of them more quickly.

So far, due to the lack of proper technology, patients return for a second “re-do” procedure nearly half the time. In the case of chronic AF – the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia, recurrence rates in Canada remain as high as 50%. The Canadian taxpayer pays over ~$170M per year for repeated treatments; these figures are expected to increase 2-4 fold by 2050.

Not anymore.

With CANet’s Commercialization Grant, Drangova and her team just got one step closer to improving the lives of approximately 350,000 Canadians suffering from AF every year. This work will also help to reduce AF hospitalization and emergency department visits by 20%, one of CANe’ts clinical goals.

CFC’s pre-clinical results have been received extraordinarily well by doctors across North America and Europe.

CANet’s Commercialization Grant will give Drangova and her team the resources to take the device from CANet’s extensive network to the clinic.

“At the project’s end, we will develop a production-ready CFC system that will be evaluated by our CANet colleagues and physicians in patients with AF,” she says.

The grant will also provide critical assistance to Drangova and her team in commercializing CFC – the team recently established Aufero Medical, a medical device start-up in London, Ontario, to manufacture the CFC, creating jobs and benefiting the Canadian economy in the process.

 “Our ultimate goal is to put the CFC from the lab bench directly into the hands of doctors here in Canada and worldwide to better treat patients,” Drangova says.

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