Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing replacement parts in the laboratory, forms a key part of this research. The parts can be used to replace defective cells and tissues in the body and restore their normal functioning. The bioengineered replacements have significant advantages over the artificial implants currently in use: They do not cause immune reactions in the patient’s body, and they can grow and regenerate themselves.
Designing heart valves on the computer
An international consortium led by UZH Professor Simon P. Hoerstrup has now reached a milestone on the road towards being able to treat heart patients using new heart valves cultured from human cells: As part of the EU-funded project LifeValve, for the first time the team, using computer simulations, succeeded in individually predicting how well cultured heart valves would grow, regenerate, and function in large animal models (sheep). “Thanks to the simulations, we can optimize the design and composition of the regenerative heart valves and develop customized implants for use in therapy,” says Hoerstrup of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at UZH.
Predicting regeneration – an important step towards clinical application
In particular, changes to the structure of the heart valve that occur in the body during the dynamic regeneration process can be predicted by computer simulations and anticipated accordingly in the design. The results that have now been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine are a significant step towards the routine application of the Zurich-developed tissue engineering technology in the future. Moreover, the findings provide a basic conceptual contribution that will aid the successful transfer to clinical use of new bioengineering technologies in regenerative medicine.
Current prostheses have to be regularly replaced in children
Valvular heart disease is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Currently available artificial heart valve prostheses are an unsatisfactory solution, in particular for children with congenital heart defects. Children with defective heart valves or blood vessels often have to undergo an operation to have them replaced by prostheses which cannot grow as the child’s body grows. This means they then require multiple reoperations with an associated increased risk of surgical complications and considerable psycho-social stress for the young patients and their families. Prostheses of animal origin – e.g. from pigs or cows – also wear out with time and have to be replaced. Adult patients could therefore also benefit from regenerative heart valves and blood vessels.
No one-size-fits-all solution
While this field of research is promising and the first clinical uses of heart valves and blood vessels cultured using tissue engineering have already been made, there are still a few hurdles to get over before the technology can be routinely used. “One of the biggest challenges for complex implants such as heart valves is that each patient’s potential for regeneration is different. There is therefore no one-size-fits-all solution”, emphasizes Hoerstrup, whose research team has been among the pioneers of cardiovascular tissue engineering for more than 20 years.
The University Children’s Hospital Zurich is currently preparing a study treating children who have congenital heart defects with tissue engineered blood vessels, developed as part of the LifeMatrix project by Wyss Zurich. Wyss Zurich is a new center run jointly by the University of Zurich and ETH to support the clinical translation of innovative findings into novel medical therapies in the areas of regenerative medicine and robotics.
The Latest on: Regenerative heart valves
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The Latest on: Regenerative heart valves
- Researchers publish long term in vivo performance of tissue engineered heart valves on July 23, 2018 at 3:18 am
The aim of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is to create living biological ... Currently, patients whose heart valves fail to function properly can receive either artificial heart valves m... […]
- Computer-designed heart valves implanted into sheep for the first time on June 28, 2018 at 6:27 am
Now, following years of research, they have made significant progress towards the use of regenerative heart valves to treat heart disease patients in the future. Using computer simulations, they have ... […]
- Computer-designed customized regenerative heart valves on May 9, 2018 at 11:15 am
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Chari... […]
- Tepha Inc. Announces Regenerative Medicine Recent Developments and R & D Initiatives on November 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm
The Company's expanded regenerative scaffold programs, all based on Tepha's P4HB polymer technology, are targeting unmet clinical needs in such areas as structural heart disease ... www.prnewswire.com ... […]
- CorMatrix Cardiovascular Announces Sale of First Pipeline Assets on June 8, 2017 at 6:39 am
which includes devices for congestive heart failure (CHF), regenerative and percutaneous heart valves, and vascular grafts. Dr. Robert Matheny, CMO/CSO said, “We are very excited about moving forward ... […]
- Engineering heart valves for the many on May 18, 2017 at 4:07 am
A team lead by Kevin Kit Parker, Ph.D. at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering recently developed a nanofiber fabrication technique to rapidly manufacture heart va... […]
- Engineering heart valves for the many on May 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm
Since JetValves can be manufactured in all desired shapes and sizes, and take seconds to minutes to produce, the team's goal is to provide customized, ready-to-use, regenerative heart valves much fast... […]
- HART and Mayo Clinic Collaborate on Regenerated Trachea, Esophagus and Heart Valve on January 7, 2015 at 5:30 am
We are very excited to expand our relationship with Mayo Clinic, one of the world’s great medical institutions, and to work with them on co-developing regenerative medicine solutions for the trachea, ... […]
- Mayo Clinic researchers study how body can repair itself on July 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm
Now, Farrugia said, “What we give you is dependent on your tumor and on your own genetic makeup.” Printing a heart valve Regenerative medicine is closely related to individualized medicine, said Dr. R... […]
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