Synthetic vascular grafts fail rapidly in small diameter procedures – like below knee grafting, coronary artery bypass, and dialysis access – forcing surgeons to use live vessels harvested from the patient. This results in an additional surgery, which increases expenses and recovery time. Around 20 percent of these patients don’t even have suitable vessels for harvest. In these situations, synthetic grafts – the only option – typically fail within a few years. Topograft is a new self-cleaning synthetic vascular prosthetic that outlasts traditional grafts. Beyond vascular grafts, this technology can also be applied to any fouling-prone surface. Additionally, our technology is inheritably synergistic with the majority of chemical solutions currently used to make surfaces biocompatible or “non-stick.”

Technology Description

Topograft is a synthetic vascular prosthetic that uses reversible surface topographic actuation to drive renewal at the fluid/surface interface. At the heart of our technology is the concentrated cyclical infusion of mechanical energy at the foulant/polymer interface that leads to foulant dislodgment and surface renewal. In the current formulation, reversible surface wrinkling in composite polymer multilayers is used as the source of surface topography. Our detailed computational and analytical analysis allows the design of tailored surface topographies for specified foulant burdens in diverse industrial and medical applications. Initial studies in a porcine model have shown this concept works in reducing platelet adhesion when compared with smooth static surfaces, like those used in standard vascular grafts, by up to 95 percent.

Advantages

  • Eliminates the need for a harvesting surgery
  • Longer-lasting than synthetic vascular grafts
  • Continually eliminates foulants (e.g., clots)

Applications

  • Cardiac and lower extremity bypasses
  • Dialysis access surgery (arteriovenous fistula, graft, or catheter)

IP Status

  • US provisional patent application filed
  • PCT application is currently in preparation.

Stage of Development

Currently optimizing for specific foulants, investigating biocompatible materials that are approved for implantation, and improving manufacturing methods in anticipation of a prototype in 2017-2018.

Notable Mentions

  • NSF I-Corps Program Grant, $50,000
  • Pitt Center for Medical Innovation, $45,000
  • Kuzneski Innovation Cup, $3,000
  • Pitt Ventures First Gear Program, $6,000