Acellularization of heart valves
- researcher's name
- research field
Biomedical engineering/Biomaterial science and engineering
Substitute valves used in operations due to valvular heart diseases include mechanical valves, tissue valves (using heart valves from cows or pigs) and donor valves (taken from a human donor). Mechanical valves require the continued taking of anticoagulants, while tissue valves have a limited term of use due to chemical treatment to prevent them from being rejected by the human body. As for donor valves, there is a shortage of donors, so there are problems associated with every type of artificial valve.
One of the ways of prolonging the life of tissue valves is to not treat them chemically, and use acellular tissue from porcine heart valves. A unique method of microwave irradiation combined with a simulated in vivo environment (controlled surfactant flow and pressure through pulsation) leaves the tissue undamaged, enabling the creation of acellular tissue that retains high strength. We also have technology for cultivating human endothelial cells on the surface of acellular porcine heart valves, enabling transplants with even less chance of rejection.
Using artificial valves requires optimization of sterilization technology. Using knowhow acquired through the development of heart valves has also enabled the acellularization of blood vessels, tendons and pericardia, and we want to make further progress in applying this technology to tendons in particular, that are placed under great stress.
We have already succeeded in the transplanting of acellular heart valves in pigs and cats. We also have knowhow in fluid mechanics (blood flow) and biomechanics, allowing us to artificially simulate a variety of in vivo environments. This enables us to take research and development to the next level in which we can work under simulated human in vivo conditions.
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