Researchers have developed a new hybrid cardiac valve made from the patient’s own cells bound with a metal alloy that they believe has the potential to revolutionize heart valve surgery.
As people age, their cardiac valves tend to stiffen or become leaky, often requiring surgical replacement. The current options are mechanical valves, which are long lasting but carry a higher complication rate, or animal valves, which wear out sooner.
At the University of California at Irvine, researchers developed a hybrid tissue-engineered heart valve they hope will be an improvement of both types.
Their new valve uses an ultra-flexible scaffold made from an alloy of
nickel and titanium (Nitinol) that is enclosed within the patient’s own cultured tissue.
The hybrid valve is designed to self-regenerate inside the body, eventually incorporating itself into the patient’s heart structure. By using the patient’s own cells, the valve becomes a “living” replacement for the diseased valve, they said.
Researchers have completed initial lab testing and now plan to initiate the next phase of trials. If all goes well, they anticipate the hybrid heart valve will be available for use in humans in 5 to 10 years.
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