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AtriAN Medical

Ken Coffey

 Ken Coffey

AtriAN Medical is developing a treatment for the long-term resolution of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). AFib is the most common form of arrhythmia and is fast becoming becoming a global epidemic. It is estimated that 9% of people over the age of 65 suffer from AFib – it accelerates the progression to heart failure and increases the risk of stroke five-fold.

The two current methods of treatment for AFib have high failure rates. Drugs are usually prescribed as a first course of action but have failure rates of about 70%. In addition to this poor performance, these drugs are toxic to most organs in the body and can therefore have serious side effects. When the drugs fail, the next course of treatment is Pulmonary Vein Isolation (PVI), a surgical technique that uses either radiofrequency energy or cryotherapy to locally destroy the vein muscle – this aims to prevent the electrical signals that cause the arrhythmia from entering the heart chamber. However this procedure also has a high failure rate of about 50%.

AtriAN is developing a technology that selectively targets the origin of these errant electrical signals, on the outside of the heart – rather than just trying to block them after they have initiated. This new approach for treatment of AFib originated at Mayo Clinic in the US and was further developed through a collaboration between NUI Galway and Mayo Clinic. The technology involves delivery of short pulses of electrical energy into clusters of neuronal cells on the outside of the heart in which the arrhythmia originates. It selectively destroys these cells without damaging the heart muscle – such damage is also one of the key drawbacks of current technologies, contributing to the low success rates. Given the approach of targeting the origin of the arrhythmia and avoiding heart muscle damage, AtriAN believes that this will provide a safe, durable and long-term solution for treatment of AFib.

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