Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

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.

Maximilian Y Emmert, Boris A Schmitt, Sandra Loerakker, Bart Sanders, Hendrik Spriestersbach, Emanuela S Fioretta, Leon Bruder, Kerstin Brakmann, Sarah E Motta, Valentina Lintas, Petra E Dijkman, Laura Frese, Felix Berger, Frank PT Baaijens, Simon P Hoerstrup.
Computational modeling guides tissue-engineered heart valve design for long-term in vivo performance in a translational sheep model.
Science Translational Medicine, Vol. 10, Issue 440, eaan4587. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4587.

Most Popular Now

Researchers Apply Computing Power to Tra…

Princeton researchers have developed a new computational method that increases the ability to track the spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another. This migration of...

Philips Powers First Tele-Intensive Care…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, and Japan-based Showa University announced the launch of Japan's first telemedicine intensive care (eICU) program at Showa University...

Open Call SC1-DTH-10-2019-2020: Digital …

Digital solutions supporting a continuum of care across a range of health and care services can relieve the pressure on governments to provide more cost-effective health and care systems by...

AI and Radar Technologies could Help Dia…

People with diabetes could be able to monitor their blood sugar without drawing blood using a system now being developed at the University of Waterloo. In a recent study, researchers...

Research Finds Three Major Failings in s…

In the scramble to bring successful apps for the diagnosis of skin cancer to market there is a concern that a lack of testing is risking public safety, according to...

Private Healthcare Data to be Captured b…

An initiative has been launched to ensure private healthcare data is recorded in the same way as NHS data in England, with the aim of improving consistency across the system...

Rapid Zika Detection Test Uses Smartphon…

The Zika virus, which continues to cause microcephaly and other neurological complications in infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy, remains a public health concern. Investigators from Brigham and Women's...

AAL Market and Investment Report

The AAL Market and Investment Report was commissioned by the Ambient Assisted Living Association and aims to provide a consolidated view of the existing market and investment information in Europe...

#eHID2018 eHealth Innovation Days 2018

6 - 7 September 2018, Flensburg, Germany. The 3rd eHealth Innovation Days will take place on 6 and 7 September 2018 at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences (FUAS). As a part...

St Helens Reduces Patient Mortality Risk…

NHS professionals at a North West trust have been shortlisted for the prestigious national Patient Safety Awards, following important work around rapid response for deteriorating patients. The team at St...

EDPS-IPEN Privacy by Design Contest for …

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), in partnership with the Data Protection Authorities of Austria, Ireland and Schleswig-Holstein and supported by the Internet Privacy Engineering Network (IPEN), is pleased to...

Clinically Connected Care Homes could Re…

A large-scale project led by senior nurses to improve the health of care home residents in Calderdale, Yorkshire has reduced emergency admissions by 33 per cent with the help of...