Developing a new heart valve is the main goal for a group of students in Miami,Fla.
Once a week,seven students get together with the faculty supervisors at the Cardiovascular Engineering Center at Florida International University to discuss their progress in the development of the valve,a valve that is expected to provide better outcomes for patients with heart valve diseases.
The aim of this study is to manufacture and test an innovative composite Polymer Trileaflet (PT) heart valve prosthesis.
Heart valve prostheses have been used successfully in heart procedures since 1960,resulting in an improvement in the quality of patients' life. Currently,there are two kinds of valves used: mechanical and bioprosthetic.
The mechanical valves have the quality of long life. Generally,they are more durable than bioprosthetic or tissue valves. However,they can result in side effects including irregular blood flow and blood clots.
Bioprosthetic or tissue valves are made out of animal tissue,most commonly pig. They have better hemodynamic (blood flow) properties,but are more susceptible to wear as a result of material fatigue.
“We want to combine the best of both worlds,” said Dr. Richard Schoephoerster from Florida International University.
“Polymer trileaflet valves offer natural hemodynamics with the potential for better durability,” said Dr. Schoephoerster.
PT heart valves usually fail in long-term use with tearing and calcification of the leaflets due to high dynamic tensile and bending stresses borne by the material and the oxidative reactions with blood.
It is known that synthetic valve leaflets that mimic natural valve leaflet structure fabricated from fiber-reinforced composite material will minimize leaflet stresses and decrease tears and perforations.
A certain proprietary material,a polymer,is being compared with an existing implant-approved polymer (IAP),currently used in other prosthetic valves.
Static and dynamic properties of the polymers are being determined in order to establish the right polymer composite for the heart valve prosthesis.
The American Heart Association-is sponsoring the research in order to identify a better material and to fabricate the best heart valve
This research is performed under the supervision of Dr. Richard Schoephoerster. Dr. Vladimir Kasyanov,Dr. Jim Byrne,Dr. Leonard Pinchuk and Ofer Amit.
“This material is new for this application,” said Andres Aguirre,a recent graduate student working in this project.
The shortcoming of the bioprosthetic pig valve is that it calcifies and begins to stiffen,making it a less than optimal solution for heart valve replacement.
They have chosen their design and material composite to provide more durability.
“Preliminary results show the fiber-reinforced composite material has the potential to have a better fatigue life when compared to an existing implant-approved polymer,” said Aguirre.
Students and investigators are pleased on being in this investigation. The world of technology and human knowledge will,one more time,help other people's lives.
“It is very fulfilling working in this research area,” said Siobhain Gallocher,a recent graduate student.
In 1999,96.000 people had a heart valve transplant,according to the American Heart Association.
The people involved in this project have great expectations. They can make a big change with these improvements in heart valves studies.
The implant stage will be starting soon. “We will attempt our first animal implant by the end of 2003,” said Dr. Schoephoerster.
“We definitely expect better durability in this new heart valve,” said Aguirre.