ImaValve – Seducing the heart to repair itself

ImaValve – Seducing the heart to repair itself

We had an emergency this morning.
We are off to quite a rushy start. I don’t mind. We had a young patient
who has acute aortic insufficiency… and we had to take him on pump
to replace the aortic valve. So that was our emergency this morning. If we replace a valve, we have two options.
We can either use a mechanical valve… or a bioprosthesis, which consists of
animal tissue. Because they are not living,
these heart valves do not grow with the patient. They can also not adapt or
repair themselves. So in these younger patients such a
heart valve needs to be replaced. Two or three times,
or even more times during a lifetime. If you’re a young patient, you have to take
medication till the end of your life. You’re always at risk, if you go skiing or
play soccer, to have a bleeding complication… or even a neurological complication
due to bleeding. So this is harmful for the patients,
and of course we try to improve. In the ImaValve project we are developing
a heart valve that consists of living materials… and that can adapt in the human body. It can
repair itself, and we also expect that it can… grow with the patients. Our heart has four heart valves, and a heart valve
controls the blood flow through our heart… and through our body.
And when a heart valve has a defect… for instance, it’s becoming too stiff
to open and close, or it’s leaky… then you get very tired. The heart has to work
very hard, and your body gets exhausted. In that case, the valve needs to be replaced. Scientists have been looking to create
living heart valves for about two decades. It doesn’t exist right now, and we are
in the process of creating it. The most fascinating thing is that we create
a polymer-based valve… that is so smart to attract the right cells
in the right moment within the body… to transform into a living heart valve. We actually make use of the processes
in the body that we call wound repair. We start with a material, a polymer.
It’s a supramolecular polymer… that has the right properties to actually
communicate with the processes in the body. And this polymer is produced
into a fibre structure. It’s a technique called electrospinning. The material is formed
in a very thin micrometer fibre mesh. This material is then formed into the shape
of a heart valve. And we’ll suture this to a stent. A stent is a way
to deliver the valve at the right site. It can be used to fold the valve into
a very small shape. That’s a very nice solution. So the system is based on a stented heart valve
which can be introduced via the groin… or via a very small incision in the body. And that is
how we are able to replace heart valves… in a very fast and safe manner in many patients.
And under live imaging such as fluoroscopy… or echo we are then able,
in a very controlled manner… to deliver those valves to our patients. You can discuss a lot about this,
when will we enter the stage of patient. I think this will happen soon
but it’s risky to say when. So that’s not…
-I think 2020. We’re close.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. What are the results of this investigation project?? I’m a patient who suffers from heart valve disease and I really hope this can work out

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