Brief History: In 1985 the book Body Electric was published by Dr. Robert O. Becker and we engaged him as an advisor to Leonhardt Ventures in the use of microcurrents to improve blood flow where needed and to regenerate tissues including heart valve leaflets. Howard J. Leonhardt Valvublator founder visited Dr. Domingos Moraes in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1987 with Dr. Ivan Casagande and Dr. Richard Bianco (from the University of Minnesota) to view the implantation of the LABCOR or BIOCOR porcine heart valve via open chest surgery.
We were beginning work on our percutaneous heart valve invention at the time which we later patented in 1997 – http://www.google.com/patents/US5957949. The viewing of the open chest operation was supposed to guide us on what was needed to convert to a percutaneous approach. I watched the whole procedure and he did not implant the heart valve. After the procedure he explained that often times when he gets to the heart valve he sees that he can clean the calcification from the leaflets and orifice with just a few simple scrapes with his scalpel. He explained that patients are always better off with their own heart valve than getting an artificial implant if that is a choice option. Right after that case I drew up the design of a vibrating dental burr on the end of a deflecting tip catheter, Valvublator I, to reduce the need for open chest surgery by decalcifying heart valves with a percutaneous catheter.
We built a rough prototype in our shop in Sunrise, Florida that year and completed preliminary tests on the ability to decalcify tissues. Also in 1987 we launched the DeltaVein electrical stimulator project in joint venture with a team in England to treat deep vein thrombosis. In 1989 our research collaborator Dr. Race Kao implanted muscle stem cells to repair infarcted hearts in dogs which was published in The Physiologist in 1989. In 1991 we introduced the first conformance sealing stent graft for aortic aneurysm repair. – the TALENT Stent Graft that went on to become the world’s leading system for endovascular repair of aortic aneurysms.
Still today controlling about 50% of the world market. In 1994 we began work with Dr. Stuart Williams at the University of Arizona to cell sod vascular grafts and heart valve leaflets, also working with Dr. Ivan Casagrande of Labcor Brazil and Dr. Richard Bianco of the University of Minnesota, and developed the first MyoValve tissued engineered heart valve rough prototype. In 2000 we filed a series of patents for utilizing microcurrents to direct stem cell regeneration of tissues via controlled release of specific proteins such as SDF-1 (stem cell homing factor) and VEGF (blood vessel growth promoting protein). In 2001 our team led the completion of the first-in-man non-surgical percutaneous catheter based muscle stem cell repair of a damaged human heart.
We went on to complete a Pilot Study, Phase I, Phase II and Phase II/III studies of utilizing muscle stem cells to regenerated muscle tissue and took that company public on NASDAQ in 2008. In 2008 we made the move from Florida to California permanent and opened up the Leonhardt Ventures research lab to work on new inventions and to renew work on old inventions such as the Valvublator. In 2013 Jeff Donofrio, Tom Newman, Dr. Jorge Genovese and Dr. Mark Cunningham joined the Valvublator team along with Dr. Stuart Williams, Dr. Nic Chronos and Dr. Dayu Teng to advance forward the Valvublator and MyoValve technology platforms.