Researchers have developed the FibraValve, a synthetic heart valve that could eventually be used in children as they continue to grow. This is reported by Engadget.
The valve was created at Harvard’s Wass Institute and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). This implant can be manufactured in minutes using a spun-fiber method that lets them shape the valve’s delicate flaps on a microscopic level — ready to be colonized by the patient’s living cells, developing with them as they mature.
The method uses a polymer material called PLCL (a combination of polycaprolactone and polylactic acid), which can stay in the patient’s body for about six months. This frequency is (theoretically) enough for the patient’s cells to penetrate the structure and take it over.
So far, this method has only been successfully tested on sheep. But his long-term vision is that the resulting organic tissue will grow with the children as they grow.
“Our goal is for the patient’s native cells to use the device as a blueprint to regenerate their own living valve tissue,” said corresponding author Kevin “Kit” Parker in Harvard’s press release.
When tested on a sheep, the FibraValve began functioning immediately, its leaflets opening and closing, letting blood through with each heartbeat. In addition, the scientists observed how red and white blood cells and fibrin protein accumulated on the leaflets of the valve during the first hour. The synthetic valve showed no signs of damage or other problems.
“This approach to heart valve replacement might open the door towards customized medical implants that regenerate and grow with the patient, making children’s lives better,” said co-author Michael Peters in the same press release.
The research is still preliminary, and the team plans to conduct long-term trials for further evaluation.
We will remind you that recently the US National Institute of Health announced the start of the first phase of clinical trials of a potential universal flu vaccine. It was created based on mRNA, similar to the first generation of vaccines against Covid-19.