Harvard Made a Synthetic Heart Valve That Could Revolutionize Medicine

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Researchers have created a potentially life-saving artificial heart valve that might one day be used in youngsters who are still growing. As intriguing as that could be, researchers admitted that the full process will still need some time until a final result. The FibraValve was developed at Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in collaboration with the Wass Institute.

What’s really striking about this implant is that it can be made in a matter of minutes using spun-fiber technology to form the valve’s tiny flaps on a microscopic level. Quite impressive, isn’t it?!

Once completed, the FibraValve is prepared to be colonized by the live cells of the patient and to develop together with those cells as the patient ages. That’s definitely some groundbreaking work for future medicine!

In the experiment that the researchers performed on a real sheep, the FibraValve “started to function immediately, its leaflets opening and closing to let blood flow through with every heartbeat.” Additionally, during the first hour, they saw both red and white blood cells as well as fibrin protein forming on the scaffolding of the valve. According to the researchers, the synthetic valve exhibited no evidence of wear and tear or any other issues.

This FibraValve makes use of a technique known as “focused rotary jet spinning,” which incorporates streams of concentrated air to more rapidly and correctly gather synthetic fibers on a spinning mandrel. As a result, it is much simpler to fine-tune the form of the valve. As a consequence of this, the micro- and nano-fibers of the polymer are capable of more precisely replicating the tissue structure of an organic heart valve. The production process takes fewer than ten minutes, but other alternative procedures might take up to several hours.

Moreover, thanks to something known as PLCL (custom polymer material), the implant can remain within a patient’s body for around six months, which could be enough time for the patient’s cells to infiltrate the structure and take control of it.

The research is still in the early stages, and the team hopes to carry out longer-term testing over the coming weeks and months in order to better evaluate their findings.

Tiesha loves to share her passion for everything that’s beautiful in this world. Apart from writing on her beauty blog and running her own beauty channel on Youtube, she also enjoys traveling and photography. Tiesha covers various stories on the website.