Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Grow With You

Replacement heart valve for infants that grows with the recipient

30 April 2021

Grow With You

Every year, thousands of babies are born with abnormal heart valves, causing serious health problems. The only treatment option is surgery to fit replacement valves made from chemically treated animal tissues. However, these valves often become clogged and stop working properly. They also don’t grow with the child, so they have to be replaced every few years through risky open-heart surgeries. Researchers have now developed a new type of heart valve grown in the lab from skin cells, shown in this image. When tested in lambs, the researchers found that the new valves can keep growing inside the body for over a year as the animals grow up. They also have better blood flow and are less likely to become clogged than current replacement valves. These new replacement valves can be stored for up to six months, potentially creating an ‘off the shelf’ option for babies who urgently need treatment.

Written by Kat Arney

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