QUT Joins Artificial Heart Frontiers Program

QUT has joined the Artificial Heart Frontiers Program (AHFP), which is a transdisciplinary consortium to develop and commercialise a suite of revolutionary and life-changing implantable cardiac devices.

The program, led by Monash University and based at the Monash Alfred Baker Centre for Cardiovascular Research at The Alfred Hospital, was awarded a $50 million grant from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to develop and commercialise three key devices to treat the most common forms of heart failure.

The devices being developed by the AHFP are the BiVACOR Total Artificial Heart, a Left Ventricular Assist Device, and the MiniPump.

The QUT program, led by Professor Shaun Gregory, will receive $8.3 million of the MRFF grant to develop and commercialise the Mini Pump which can be implanted in a minimally invasive procedure for patients who have no option for other mechanical circulatory support, and are limited to pharmaceutical therapies and end-of-life care.

Professor Shaun Gregory

“The Mini-Pump will help patients who have a specific type of heart failure that at the moment is completely unaddressed, so it’s a big priority for our team,” he said.

Professor Shaun Gregory, with the QUT School of Mechanical, Medical and Process Engineering, is the director of the QUT Centre for Biomedical Technologies, and co-Director of the Artificial Heart Frontiers Program.

“Central to the Frontiers Program is the creation of a complete cardiac device ecosystem in Australia encompassing research, clinical trials, commercialisation and the development of new manufacturing capabilities,” Professor Shaun Gregory said.

“The funding for this program will take it to the next level.”

Professor Gregory said the Artificial Heart Frontiers Program would be “a game-changer for the treatment of heart failure in Australia”.

“It is expected to reduce the numbers of deaths by heart failure while improving their longevity and quality of life,” Professor Gregory said.

Professor David Kaye, AHFP co-Director and Director of Cardiology at The Alfred, said the average survival of a heart failure patient was comparable to some cancers at just five years, and was even less for patients with advanced heart failure, who were the people the program’s devices would most benefit.

“Heart failure is a chronic progressive condition in which patients suffer from debilitating symptoms including persistent breathlessness and fatigue, that frequently require hospitalisation at great cost.”

By 2036 the Program is expected to have generated a $1.8 billion benefit to Australia and Australian society, including savings to the healthcare system, an expansion in local industry in research and manufacturing, the creation of more than 2000 jobs, and providing Australians early access to clinical trials and emerging life-saving technologies.

The Artificial Heart Frontiers Program members include BiVACOR founder and the Australian designer of the Total Artificial Heart, Dr Daniel Timms. Dr Timms, based in the United States, is a graduate of QUT and was awarded QUT Young Alumnus of the Year.

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