'Meet the Innovators' Season 2, Episode 6: A video interview with Jacob Kriegel, MD, co-founder and CMO, Alleviant Medical. Houston medical device start-up, Alleviant Medical, is developing a novel transcatheter technology that applies left atrial decompression to provide symptomatic relief for congestive heart failure.
Meet Jacob Kriegel, MD. Jacob is the co-founding CEO of Alleviant Medical Inc., a Houston-based medical device start-up developing a novel transcatheter technology that applies left atrial decompression to provide symptomatic relief for congestive heart failure. Leveraging mother nature's solution to atrial pressure, Jacob hopes that Alleviant's next-generation devices will lift the clinical and economic burden of heart failure.
“Congestive heart failure is a quintessentially chronic disease, and it's something that people live with their entire life. Unfortunately, it's one of these diseases that continues to progress,” begins Jacob. The disease mainly affects older adults as with time the heart muscle weakens, and the heart is no longer able to pump blood throughout the body effectively. Patients experience a buildup of pressure in the left atrium of the heart that causes fluid to collect in the lungs, leading to shortness of breath and resulting in frequent hospitalizations.
According to the CDC, heart failure affects nearly six million people and accounts for over $30 billion in direct annual costs in the United States alone. Current medications do not address the root of the problem for some forms of HF and are generally ineffective at relieving symptoms. Many other interventions are invasive which creates a whole slew of additional risks (see “Will Heart Failure Be the Next Growth Market in Transcatheter Structural Heart?” by Mary Stuart, March 13, 2019, MedTech Strategist). Realizing the immense need for a non-pharmaceutical, non-invasive alternative to treating HF, Alleviant Medical developed its proprietary system, ALV-1. The purpose of the minimally-invasive system is to reduce heart failure symptoms, thereby reducing the rate of hospital re-admissions and eliminating the associated costs required to treat the patient; not to mention the bonus of improving quality of life.
Growing up as a medical industry legacy, Jacob explains that “I was going to be a doctor before I even knew what that meant or what I was getting myself into.” Coupling his family’s medical background with his interest in technology, Jacob went to Columbia University and realized that “one of the best things about medical school was learning that you can have a career in clinical practice and technology and innovation.” Soon after, Jacob was invited to participate in the TMC Biodesign fellowship where he and three engineers “looked at heart failure, a major unmet need in the healthcare system,” says Jacob. Specifically, “we looked at elevated pressure inside the heart. That is the key to what we're doing and the key to the way we're thinking about the problem.” Ultimately, concludes Jacob, “that led us on this path to develop a new tool to lower [left atrial] pressure in the heart.
The tool, ALV-1, is a patent-pending single-use disposable that creates a pressure relief channel inside the heart. “For a long time, we thought that an extra channel in the heart was a bad thing, but it turns out that people born with this anomaly may have a protective benefit from heart failure,” Jacob says. “What we think is happening is that pressure in the left atrium is actually relieved through that channel,” he explains. The procedure itself is minimally-invasive and performed with minimal anesthesia. Jacob's hope is "to have people in and out of the hospital quickly and get them feeling better right away.”
In addition to holding the title of TMC Biodesign fellow, Alleviant Medical is also a resident of the TMC Innovation Institute’s accelerator program, TMCx, located in the largest medical center in the world, Texas Medical Center. Next for Jacob is returning to clinical practice to complete his cardiothoracic surgical training this July and transitioning into a new role as Chief Medical Officer. As a result, the company recently recruited Adam Berman to fill the role of CEO and help the company achieve its upcoming milestones. For now, Jacob concludes, we are “continuing to iterate on the device design” and look forward to an upcoming meeting with the FDA. From all of us at MedTech Strategist, we offer Jacob and the entire Alleviant Medical team, congratulations and we wish you continued success!
WATCH THE SHORT, 12-MIN VIDEO INTERVIEW ABOVE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JACOB, AND HOW ALLEVIANT MEDICAL IS MAKING AN IMPACT ON THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY.
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