Engineering a Heart Valve with Patient Specific Cells

Doctor's Name: 
Sunjay Kaushal, MD
Children’s Memorial Hospital

For many congenital heart patients, valve replacement and valve replacement re-operations are necessary
throughout their entire life. Current valve choices are limited due to: 1) inadequate available sizes of valve
replacements, especially for the very young, and 2) the valve replacement’s lack of growth and lack of
remodeling ability – that is, the valve is fixed and cannot adapt to a patient’s growth or variation in anatomy.
Finally, the most important limitation of existing valve replacements is that no live cells exist on any these valve
replacements. There is a strong interest in developing new and better valves for congenital heart patients that
will avoid the limitations of current valves. A possibility is a biological, active valve containing the patient’s own
live cells which may have the potential to grow, remodel, and replicate the features of a normal valve. In order
to create this biological, active valve two essential elements are needed: first, a scaffold in the form of a normal
valve and second, non-invasively obtained patient cells to populate the scaffold. We propose to create a
scaffold from a native valve by removing all the cells with a special solution; this scaffold will provide the
foundation for the biological, active valve. We will then generate the patient’s valve cells by using a new
technology that is able to create these cells from a tiny skin or tissue sample. Once we seed these patient cells
on the scaffold, we will grow the valve in a special incubator. We will then test the functionality of the valve in
an animal model to assess valve endurance. We are hopeful that this new biological valve, containing the
patient’s own cells, will be like a native valve. This biological valve should last the lifetime of the patient and
change the outcome for congenital heart patients in the future.

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