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Qatar University living heart valves - research to change the lives of millions | Qatar University

Qatar University living heart valves - research to change the lives of millions

2020-07-15 00:00:00.0

The Problem

Heart valve diseases are among the leading causes of cardiac failure around the globe. Nearly 90,000 heart valve replacements occur in the USA annually. Currently, available options for heart valve replacement include bioprosthetic and mechanical valves, both of which have severe limitations. Bioprosthetic valves can last for only 10-20 years while patients with mechanical valves always require blood-thinning medications throughout the remainder of the patient's life.

About 25,000 deaths in the U.S. and 3% of sudden deaths in the European Union occur annually because of cardiac valve defects. These numbers are expected to triple in the next 50 years due to an aging population.

The solution

Researchers at Qatar University (QU) in collaboration with researchers from Imperial College London, Biostage, Inc. (USA), and American University of Beirut (Lebanon) have made a leap forward in developing engineered living heart valves that can work like the natural heart valves and grow bigger after implantation in human heart.

The team generated the valve using a combination of nanotechnology, 3D printing and newly developed tissue engineering techniques. They made a 3D shape of heart valve using a special type of nanofiber-based biomaterial, which was then injected with living human cells, and grown inside a tissue incubator before being ready to go through the testing and implantation in heart. The injected cells create and deposit their own natural matrix over the time while the initial supporting material used to make the valve slowly degrades and gets replaced by the matrix deposited by the cells. This technique called “tissue engineering” is one of the latest advancements in the field of biomedical engineering and has recently been successfully applied to develop engineered human skins and bladders.

The team also employed a series of new testing procedures for engineered heart valves to ensure the highest quality of the developed valves before their implantation in living body, using tests involving a pulse duplicator and echocardiography machine that have enormous potential for routine application in engineered tissue testing before their implantation.

Learn more

Assistant Professor Anwarul Hasan
An Assistant Professor and the lead principal investigator in this project at Qatar University