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Many readers will have heard about the British engineer Tal Golesworthy, who was born with a rare genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome. This syndrome causes a mutation to the gene that makes fibrillin. For those of you needing to brush up on your Anatomy 101, fibrillin is a protein that is essential to the formation of elastic fibers found in the body’s connective tissue.

People afflicted with Marfan Syndrome tend to have particularly long limbs and digits, and often suffer from scoliosis. In severe cases, Marfan can cause heart valve disease and a significant risk of aortic aneurysms.

As recently reported in the Ottawa Citizen, Mr. Golesworthy was not about to allow his rare health condition affect the quality and length of his life. Accordingly, when he was informed by his doctor that his aorta was dangerously stretched to its capacity and at a risk of rupture, Mr. Golesworthy was not enamoured with the proposed standard of care in similar situations: open-heart surgery and a lifetime regime of powerful blood thinners.

Rather than accept this distasteful solution, Mr. Golesworthy asked the eternal question of many engineers and inventors that have gone before him: Why do we do it this way?

After more than 30 hours of MRI scans and securing the financial backing of private benefactors,  Mr. Golesworthy developed his invention: a light-weight synthetic mesh wrap that supports the aorta. It has now been used in 81 patients throughout the world.

Mr. Golesworhy has formed a company, Exstent Limited, and filed a number of patent applications around the world in the interests of protecting his invention.

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. However, in this case, it took the inquiring mind of an innovator and a stubborn commitment to challenge traditional thinking. He generated a solution that not only improves the inventor’s quality of life, but also the lives of many other afflicted patients around the world.

The lesson for prospective inventors out there: don’t be afraid to question the traditional way of doing things. Just because one technique and tool is being used, doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon. And if you do happen to develop a new design or technique, don’t forget to register your patent!

For more information about inventions and registering patents, contact our Intellectual Property Group.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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