A new hope for heart patients

Innovation in treating the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system.

heart tech 521 (photo credit: ROTARYVIEW)
heart tech 521
(photo credit: ROTARYVIEW)
In a healthy person, the two branches of the body's autonomic nervous system – the sympathetic, which increases cardiovascular activity, and the parasympathetic, which decreases it – work in a synchronized fashion. But for those suffering from heart failure this isn't the case – a problem that Israel-based BioControl Medical (www.biocontrolmedical.com) focuses on with their CardioFit system, a device now undergoing a major clinical trial in the United States.
Some 23 million people worldwide are affected by congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart is unable to provide adequate blood flow to the body. Heart failure is caused by a variety of factors that result in damaged heart muscle, such as prolonged high blood pressure and heart valve disorders.
“The [US] Food and Drug Administration’s approval to expand INOVATE-HF [the clinical trial] is a wonderful validation of the excellent clinical work completed in Phase I of the study,” Ehud Cohen, CEO of BioControl Medical, tells The Jerusalem Report.
The Increase of Vagal Tone in Heart Failure (INOVATEHF) consists of an initial phase involving 50 patients at 21 centers worldwide, and with the FDA approval allows unconditional study expansion of up to 200 patients at 50 US centers. But the plan is to expand the trial to include 650 patients at 80 centers in the US.
The CardioFit stimulator, which is about half the size of a smartphone, is fitted to the patient via surgery. Two cables are connected to the device: A sensor lead is extended from the stimulator to the right ventricle of the heart, and the stimulation lead is extended from the stimulator to the vagus nerve – a part of the parasympathetic nervous system – on the right side of the neck.
The sensor lead is used to monitor the activity of the heart to ensure that a balance is in place, and the stimulation lead is used to stimulate the parasympathetic branch when the need arises.
This method is a major difference compared to other solutions available today, according to BioControl Medical, which says clinical studies have found that the “parasympathetic branch has been shown to perform a multi-faceted set of heart-protecting 'maintenance' activities, the combination of which can improve heart function and reverse heart failure deterioration.”
While drugs can treat heart symptoms connected to the activity of the sympathetic branch of the nervous system, until now there hasn’t been a way of treating problems connected to the parasympathetic branch.
The CardioFit has already been cleared for sale by the European Union. In the US, the testing consists of an initial phase involving 50 patients at 21 centers worldwide, and the FDA approval allows unconditional study expansion to up to 200 patients at 50 centers.
“We applaud the efforts of our trial investigators and coordinators, who are fundamental to driving this pioneering research, and we look forward to working with a broader group of sites across the US in the near future,” Cohen says, adding that there is great interest among cardiologists for new therapies for the treatment of heart failure.
BYTESPHOTO MAGICHow many photos have you taken today, or in the past month? Studies show that the number of pictures people take on their smartphones is steadily increasing.
And with more photos comes the problem of organizing and sharing them. This is where the Israelis developers of the flayvr app say they can be helpful. Flayvr (www.flayvr.com) claims to solve the problem of endless searching through camera rolls by bringing photos and videos back to life, allowing consumers to discover photos and memories that have been forgotten or buried in smartphone galleries.
The app removes unwanted photos and automatically adds titles and locations of events based on the user’s information.
Ron Levy, flayvr CEO, says the company is starting off with mobile phones, but aims "to change the way we consume media and tell stories by creating a new visual media standard across multiple platforms." Flayvr is currently available on iOS (Apple), but will be coming to Android phones soon.
Long gone are the days when people would gather in front of the TV to watch their favorite show, and if they missed it, the only option was to wait for a rerun.
And now an Israeli and American team believes it has taken viewing to a new level, with Boxee TV (www.boxee.tv), which brings together broadcast TV channels, DVR and Internet websites such as Vimeo and YouTube into one simple experience. For a small fee, Boxee TV offers not the just standard functions of a regular Digital Video Recorder (DVR), such as watching one show while recording another, but allows users to watch movies or shows via the Internet from services such as Netflix.
The service also includes what the company claims is the first-ever unlimited DVR. Instead of storing your recordings on a local hard drive, Boxee TV uploads your recordings to a virtual cloud. This means there are no limits to how much a user can record, and the content is available on any device, be it a laptop, tablet or the TV.
Boxee TV, of course, includes a social media function where users can share recommendations via Facebook and Twitter.
So far the device is only available in a few major US cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, but the company says more locations will be added in the future.