Bangalore: TTK Healthcare Ltd, the health care division of south-based TTK Group, and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, a speciality hospital at Thiruvananthapuram, are jointly developing a bioprosthetic or tissue heart valve for older patients.
TTK is the only manufacturer in India of mechanical valves that are implanted among younger patients, producing around 9,000 valves a year. “The older people need tissue valves. It is much bigger market,” said T.T. Jagannathan, chairman and managing director of TTK Group, based in Bangalore. “We could have bought the technology, but it will come with conditions. It is easier to develop by us,” Jagannathan added.
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute is processing or chemically treating animal tissues, an element crucial for such heart valves, and will be ready with a device in around three years.
“The device then needs to undergo clinical trials,” said G.S. Bhuvaneshwar, head of the biomedical technology wing at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute, a research hub for cardio or heart diseases in South India.
Mechanical valves have a longer lifetime, but a patient needs to be under medication with anti-coagulation drugs or medicines that ensure blood in the body does not clot due to the presence of a foreign object. Whereas, patients who have bioprosthetic valves implanted can stop taking these drugs after six months or so, Bhuvaneshwar said.
These valves are used for patients above the age of 40 in India and above 50 in countries such as the US, and has a lifespan of around 15 years.
Another Indian medical group, Frontier Lifeline and Dr K.M. Cherian Heart Foundation, based in Chennai, has developed a bioprosthetic heart valve that is undergoing clinical trials in the country, Bhuvaneshwar said. Dr Cherian, who owns the foundation, was not reachable for comment.
Indian hospitals also import heart valves made by pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. and Boston Scientific, that are implanted in patients. The Chitra-TTK mechanical valves are sold at around Rs25,000 each—about a quarter cheaper than similar imported valves.
“It (indigenous valve) will redefine the availability of high quality procedures at a more affordable cost,” said Vishal Bali, CEO of Wockhardt Hospitals, the health care division of pharmaceutical company Wockhardt Ltd in Bangalore.
TTK, which makes mechanical valves in Chennai, will open a new facility in Thiruvananthapuram with a capacity to produce around 400 bioprosthetic valves per month.
“Skill is the barrier to make these valves. It needs a lot of manual work,” said Jagannathan of TTK.