The Hadassah Medical Center has been selected to perform the first clinical trials in Israel—and the second in the world—with a new machine that treats heart blockages. The machine, so new that it is still unnamed, was invented by the Israeli company, Medispec, which developed the Lithotripter. While the Lithotripter uses high-energy shock waves to fragment and disintegrate kidney or gall stones, this machine uses the same high-energy shock waves to generate new blood vessels.
The clinical trials aim to validate this method of treating patients who cannot undergo conventional treatment for either angina pectoris or congestive heart failure caused by coronary artery stenosis (narrowing of the arteries). “Hadassah’s outstanding reputation for research, and our use of echocardiography and innovative ultrasound techniques, made us the Israeli hospital of choice,” said Dr. Ronen Durst, who is heading the project with his colleagues at Hadassah’s Heart Institute.
The new machine concentrates shock waves on a specific site, using echocardiography to target bloodless spots. Unlike stents and other techniques for treating blockages and increasing the blood flow to the heart, this machine does not clear the blockage itself. Rather, it creates new blood vessels in an unblocked artery, bypassing the blockage and providing an alternate route for the blood to flow freely.
Following a heart attack, the blood vessels that remain or are regenerated are not sufficient to meet the patient’s cardiac needs, Dr. Durst explains. The first clinical trial in Germany revealed that the new machine could create new vessels that would increase intake of blood to the heart. Hadassah’s clinical trial involves a small number of patients. Once the results are analyzed, Hadassah’s researchers will consider conducting a second trial on a larger group of patients and fine tuning the protocols.