The Best of Both Worlds: New Artificial Heart Valves Could Eliminate Need for Blood Thinners

A new heart valve combines the biocompatibility of a biological valve with the robustness of a mechanical one.

A new artificial heart valve could potentially have the robustness of mechanical valves and the biocompatibility of a biological valve, according to new research.

More than 1.3 million patients globally with diseased heart valves need replacement therapy each year. Currently, there are 2 options for a replacement heart valve: biological and artificial.

Biological valves are made from fixed pig or cow tissue and generally have a good biocompatibility, which means the patient does not need life-long blood thinning tablets; however, they only have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Mechanical heart valves have excellent durability but require the need for blood thinning drugs in order to avoid life threatening complications.

Teams at the universities of Bristol and Cambridge have developed the PoliValve. This new valve addresses the limitations of the current valves, according to the press release. PoliValve is made from a simple molding process, which would help to reduce manufacture and quality control costs. According to the press release, the PoliValve has exceeded the ISO standards for hydrodynamic testing and the minimum of 200 million repetitions of opening and closing during bench testing.

"The transformational PoliValve results from an advanced Bristol/Cambridge-based biomedical cross-fertilization between experts in biomaterials, computational modelling, advanced preclinical development/testing and clinical academics understanding the patient needs. The new valve could help millions of people worldwide and we aim to test in patients within the next 5 years," Raimondo Ascione, MD, NHS adult cardiac surgeon and head of the Translational Biomedical Research Centre (TBRC) at the University of Bristol, said in the press release.

More testing is needed before the valve is evaluated in humans. According to the press release, initial animal testing has been undertaken at Bristol’s TBRC facility. This is the first mandatory in-vivo testing for safety, with long-term testing already planned and funded.


New heart valve could transform open heart surgery for millions of patients globally (News Release); University of Bristol; June 29 2020; EurekAlert!; accessed June 29, 2020

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