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Rheoplasty System Targets Bronchitis Mucus Plugging

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 21 Nov 2018
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Image: Lung electrosurgery treatment can help treat chronic bronchitis (Photo courtesy of Gala Therapeutics).
Image: Lung electrosurgery treatment can help treat chronic bronchitis (Photo courtesy of Gala Therapeutics).
An innovative electrosurgical system targets the cells responsible for mucus hypersecretion in the airways, providing relief to chronic bronchitis patients.

The Gala Therapeutics (Menlo Park, CA, USA) RheOxh system is an ablation catheter and complementary minimally invasive procedure that is designed to reduce cough and mucus production using a bronchoscope inserted through the mouth into the lungs. Once in place, the RheOx catheter delivers short bursts of high frequency, short duration electrical energy to the inner walls of the bronchi, causing mucus-producing cells to break open and die. Within days, the abnormal cells in the airway epithelium and sub-mucosal tissue layers are replaced by new cells, which produce less mucus.

The treatment involves two sessions delivered under general anesthesia. The right lung is treated during the first treatment session, and the left lung is treated at the second treatment session, approximately one month later. The RheOxh system is an experimental device that is currently undergoing an early feasibility study (EFS) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC; PA, USA), under a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigational device exemption (IDE).

“Patients with chronic bronchitis suffer daily with mucus hypersecretion and cough. We developed the bronchial rheoplasty procedure to directly treat the abnormal airway cells responsible for chronic bronchitis, which are not impacted by inhaled medications,” said Jonathan Waldstreicher, MD, CEO of Gala Therapeutics. “Treatment of the first subjects in the United States through the novel EFS pathway is a significant milestone for Gala Therapeutics.”

Chronic bronchitis is the most common subtype of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is associated with increased cough, excessive phlegm, and shortness of breath for more than three months of each year. It mainly affects smokers and former smokers, but secondhand smoke, vaping, exposure to airborne chemicals, pollution, and other irritants can also contribute to the disease. Despite treatment with inhalers, many patients have persistent symptoms.

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