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Institute for Regenerative Medicine • IREM

Computer-designed heart valves implanted into sheep for the first time

Using computer simulations, researchers developed heart valves that regenerate and grow with the body.

According to the European Society of Cardiology, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Europe. Each year, 3.9 million people die here from heart disease, which is responsible for 45 % of all deaths on the continent.

Heart valve replacement surgery remains the most common treatment for damage or defects in one of the four heart valves. But around a third of patients face problems within 10 years of receiving the implant and often require further, potentially life-threatening corrective surgery.

In 2009, an international consortium of scientists embarked on a partly EU-funded project called LIFEVALVE to develop a more efficient strategy for treating patients with heart valve disease. Now, following years of research, they have made significant progress towards the use of regenerative heart valves to treat heart disease patients in the future. Using computer simulations, they have designed and successfully implanted regenerative heart valves into sheep for the first time. Their results are presented in a paper published in the journal ‘Science Translational Medicine’.

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