Valvular heart disease is the term used to describe when any valve in the heart is damaged or diseased. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.5% of the U.S. population has valvular heart disease – but it is more common in older adults. When any of the heart’s valves are diseased, they are unable to fully open or close to allow proper blood flow from one area of the heart to the next or in the correct direction it needs to move. In more severe cases, treatment can require open heart surgery. A new alternative developed by Israeli startup company Cuspa Medical might one day offer a less invasive, less expensive, and safer option for valvular heart disease patients. 

That option, an artificial cusp called the Cusper, attaches to the heart’s valve and helps to reduce the backflow of blood to the heart’s chamber. The device is placed during a minimally invasive catheter procedure, saving the patient from longer rehabilitation time and more pain. The doctor pushes the device out of a sheath and directs it to the desired location. It attaches to the valve using a metal grasper, holding the valve at its original size and ensuring that when the valve closes there is no leakage entering the opening.  

The device is currently being tested on large animals to ensure safety and efficacy. It also has two international patents pending approval in North America, Europe, and Asia. Cuspa Medical CEO Ariel Weigler is a Technion alumnus, and Technion Professor (and alumnus) Yair Feld is the company’s founder and director.