Frontier plans artificial heart unit with Russia

Tags: Industry
The science and research park at the Mediville medical village project of Frontier Lifeline hospital plans to venture into production of artificial mechanical hearts with the collaboration of a Russian company.

The hospital is in talks with Sputnik LVAD for either forming a joint venture or for a technology transfer. With the collaboration, the research facility at Mediville will be used to conduct pre-clinical tests on large animals before commercialising the product.

“The Russian company finds that by conducting the tests in India, it can make substantial savings. In south India, we are the only private entity with research facilities to conduct pre-clinical tests with large animals,” said K M Cherian, chairman of Frontier Lifeline.

As per estimates, producing such a mechanical heart will cost Rs 18 to Rs 20 lakh in India, while the cost would go up to Rs 63 lakh in the US and Rs 30 lakh in Russia. US-based Thoratec Corporation’s Heartmate II is one of the leading products in the segment. The combined consumption of the US, Canada and Britain is 50,000 artificial mechanical hearts per year.

Frontier Lifeline is also going into the third phase trials for its decellularised valves derived out of bovine animals and pigs. The trials will be conducted at some of the leading medical institutions like All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. Once commercialised, it will open up a $7 billion market of tissue-engineered heart valves for Frontier Lifeline.

“The market is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2020. Some of the leading companies dealing with valves derived from bovine animals are US-based Medtronic, St Jude Medical and Cryolife, while German company Charite is a leader in biological valves derived from pigs,” said Cherian.

However, delay in receiving licenses for conducting pre-clinical tests in large animals is troubling Frontier Lifeline as it has already lost several projects due to the delay.

‘In Singapore, it takes 12 days to receive the clearances and in Japan 28 days. In order to get the approvals each time for tests from Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA), it takes almost one year. Apart from the licenses for keeping lab animals, every test needs special approvals,’ he said.

The research park at Frontier’s Mediville has lost five projects of doing pre-clinical tests on large animals like pigs and sheep and this include $1.5 million test for pacemaker lead from Medtronic, $2 million intra-aortic balloon pump test from Meril and $1 million project on bio-absorbable stent from Nano Therapeutics.

The company has spent Rs 170 crore on the research park and would have done Rs 15 crore of business if the approvals came in time. The research park needs a further investment of Rs 200 crore and is looking out for strategic partners who understand the longer gestation period needed for research projects.


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