Researchers at the University of British Columbia, in Canada, have developed a heart valve that can reduce or eliminate complications arising from heart transplants. Unlike traditional heart valves that require opening a patient's chest to implant, the new valves are able to implanted through a small incision. Details of the new heart valve design were recently published in the Journal of Engineering in Medicine.
“Existing transcatheter heart valves are made of animal tissues, most often the pericardium membrane from a cow’s heart, and have had only moderate success to date,” says Hadi Mohammadi, assistant professor at University of British Columbia and head of the Heart Valve Performance Laboratory (HVPL) at the Okanagan's School of Engineering. “The problem is that they face significant implantation risks and can lead to coronary obstruction and acute kidney injury.”
From the University of British Columbia article: "The new valve solves that problem by using naturally derived nanocomposites—a material assembled with a variety of very small components—including gels, vinyl and cellulose. The combination of their new material with the non-invasive nature of transcatheter heart valves makes this new design very promising for use with high-risk patients, according to Mohammadi.
'Not only is the material important but the design and construction of our valve means that it lowers stress on the valve by as much as 40 per cent compared to valves currently available,' says Dylan Goode, a graduate researcher at the HVPL. 'It is uniquely manufactured in one continuous form, so it gains strength and flexibility to withstand the circulatory complications that can arise following transplantation.'
Working with researchers from Kelowna General Hospital and Western University, the valve will now undergo vigorous testing to perfect its material composition and design. The testing will include human heart simulators and large animal in-vivo studies. If successful, the valve will then proceed to clinical patient testing."
Read more about the novel heart valve that reduces transplant complications at the University of British Columbia.