Cardiologists from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio unveiled a major project on Aug. 30 funded by the AT&T Foundation– creation of a nano-sized sensor to measure blood pressure and flow inside arteries while sending readings in real time to an external receiver. The AT&T Foundation donated $200,000 to the Health Science Center’s Janey Briscoe Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research for the project.
A nano-sized sensor is described as less than one-eight-thousandth the diameter of a red blood cell.
“This project represents eight years of cutting-edge research at the Health Science Center, which is at the forefront of technical advances to treat the processes of cardiovascular disease,” said Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center. “Today we celebrate the strong partnership of our dear friends at the AT&T Foundation, and their sincere commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of our region and our society through innovative technology. We also celebrate the vision of a significant and dedicated person, Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr., who provided the generous funding to establish the Janey Briscoe Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research in honor of his beloved wife.”
John T. Montford, AT&T senior vice president, said: “This is a glimpse of the future, and another example of technology and medicine converging to improve the way physicians one day will be able to monitor patients with congestive heart failure and other serious diseases.”
The project’s lead investigator, Steven R. Bailey, M.D., occupant of the Janey Briscoe Distinguished University Chair in Cardiovascular Research and professor of medicine at the Health Science Center, said the goal is to provide significantly more information to physicians about their patients than has ever been available.
“Measuring blood pressure or heart rate only when patients are in the office clearly does not reflect what happens throughout the day and the night,” Dr. Bailey said. “The ability to have real-time assessment will allow physicians to tailor therapy individually for the best treatment effects.”
The AT&T grant will fund a proof-of-concept study to develop a prototype of a biosensor and external monitoring system. Once the concept is proven, the components can be miniaturized. “We are talking about the interior of a blood vessel,” Dr. Bailey said. “The goal is to implant, in an almost non-invasive, outpatient procedure, a biosensor to monitor pressure values and blood flow in the cardiovascular system. Ultimately we want to transmit this information to a data-collection module worn by the patient, perhaps like a wristwatch. This module would transmit the data to a central remote monitoring station for real-time review by health care providers.”
Dr. Bailey and other Health Science Center faculty cared for Gov. Briscoe’s wife, Janey, after a major heart attack. The governor has said his wife lived nearly two additional years because of the care she received. Gov. Briscoe has donated more than $3 million to the Janey Briscoe Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research, which is directed by Dr. Bailey. The center’s scope ranges from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside.
Data from patients with congestive heart failure, hypertension, angina and other disorders may enable professionals to diagnose cardiovascular events before they happen or more rapidly assess them while they are occurring. Nearly 5 million Americans are living with heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Annually, it is estimated that $25 billion to $40 billion is spent on care of these patients. Hypertension affects more than 50 million Americans, and the cost of treating the disorder in this country is estimated to exceed $55 billion annually. The national Institute of Medicine has placed high priority on development of methods to prevent heart failure, angina and hypertension without the interventional procedures that today are performed.