Drago Cerchiari, CEO of the Sorin Group (Milan, Italy), and Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) said they have signed a three-year agreement to collaborate in research efforts in the development of an aortic valve-replacement procedure that uses a collapsible heart valve implanted in a beating heart.

The collapsible heart valve would be implanted through a small incision in the apex of the heart, would be minimally invasive for the patient and would not require the heart lung machine, according to the companies. Thus, some patients who today cannot undergo a valve-replacement procedure either for advanced age or other medical reasons could still benefit from a life-saving, heart valve implant. This would represent a sizeable increase in the population eligible for valve replacements, the companies noted.

The new venture will use Sorin's new sutureless collapsible heart valve, which the company said has already been successfully implanted in man. The Sorin valve itself has nearly two decades of proven clinical excellence, according to the company.

Sorin and Mayo said they will not only develop the therapy itself but also the ancillary instruments needed for the successful execution of the implant and delivery of the valve. Once the implantation procedure is ready, Mayo said it would participate in U.S. clinical trials.

Franco Vallana, Sorin Group chief scientific officer, said Sorin's "know-how combined with Mayo's surgical expertise will ensure the successful outcome of our collaboration and will allow us to bring this new life-saving therapy to market as quickly as possible."

Sorin offers therapies for cardiac rhythm dysfunctions, interventional cardiology and the treatment of chronic kidney diseases.

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