Heart valve a UBCO first

Researchers at UBC Okanagan have created a new type of surgical heart valve.

The first-ever nanocomposite biomaterial heart valve was developed to reduce or eliminate complications related to heart transplants.

Assistant Professor Hadi Mohammadi of the Heart Valve Performance Laboratory at UBCO’s School of Engineering says the transcatheter heart valve opens up a promising new branch of cardiology.

The valves are unique because they can be inserted into a patient through small incisions rather than opening a patient’s chest.

“Existing transcatheter heart valves are made of animal tissues, most often the pericardium membrane from a cow’s heart, and have had only moderate success to date,” explains Mohammadi. “The problem is that they face significant implantation risks and can lead to coronary obstruction and acute kidney injury.”

“Not only is the material important, but the design and construction of our valve means that it lowers stress on the valve by as much as 40 per cent compared to valves currently available,” says Dylan Goode, a graduate researcher at the lab. “It is uniquely manufactured in one continuous form, so it gains strength and flexibility to withstand the circulatory complications that can arise following transplantation.”

Working with researchers from Kelowna General Hospital and Western University, the valve will now undergo vigorous testing before clinical patient trials.

The study, which was was published this month in the Journal of Engineering in Medicine, has the potential to become the new standard in heart valve replacement, the researchers say.

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