The Endothelium-Preserving Microwave Treatment for Atherosclerosis was first developed and patented by engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC).
The apparatus and method enable the repair of diseased coronary arteries during cardiac catheterization by delivering microwave energy to precise arterial locations to selectively target and heat atherosclerotic lesions. The treatment preserves the most delicate endothelial cell layer, which is especially important for preventing restenosis due to thrombotic, inflammatory, and proliferative responses that complicate current treatment procedures.
In the 1990s, JSC engineers were investigating the use of millimeter waves to collect images of the human body. They rented an expensive experimental imaging system, but determined early on that the millimeter wave technology was not going to be useful for the original intent. They brainstormed other uses and theorized that it could be adapted for use in a miniaturized, directional antenna attached to a catheter. Inserted into a diseased artery, the millimeter wave transmissions could penetrate the artery wall and destroy atherosclerotic lesions without damaging healthy tissue and cells. The validity of this concept was subsequently confirmed by a local physician. They patented the apparatus and method in December 2002.
“My company believes that the need has never been greater for a minimal or noninvasive, low-cost tool such as this for the management of individuals at risk for coronary artery disease.”
JSC met with Meridian Health Systems, P.C. of Los Angeles, California, to discuss the technology’s feasibility and effectiveness. In July 2011 the two organizations signed a Space Act Agreement (SAA) to conduct feasibility studies and further develop the technology collaboratively. After a successful technology demonstration in November 2011, NASA licensed the technology to Meridian through a partially exclusive patent license agreement.
JSC and Meridian are currently negotiating a second, novel “umbrella SAA” that will include separate annexes for different technology areas to further speed testing and development.
Meridian intends to market the technology as the Endothelium Preserving Microwave Treatment for Atherosclerosis (EPMTA™) Angioplasty Device for the nonsurgical repair of diseased coronary arteries. The effort at Meridian is championed by Dr. Anthony C. Dike, President and CEO. “Cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States every year since 1918,” Dike said. “My company believes that the need has never been greater for a minimal or noninvasive, low-cost tool such as this for the management of individuals at risk for coronary artery disease.”