Researchers at Harvard today released a study on newly developed artificial heart valves crafted from advanced nanofiber networks, claiming the valves have the ability to regenerate and grow with the patient.
The valves, dubbed JetValves, were developed by a team at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering using a proprietary rotary jet spinning technology to extrude an ECM solution into nanofibers that wrap around heart valve-shaped mandrels.
Researchers claim that valves fabricated from the nanofiber network mimic the mechanical and chemical properties of the native valve’s extracellular matrix, creating a potential for regeneration and growth.
The team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute said they collaborated with a team at the University of Zurich to test the potential of the JetValves. In a study published in Biomaterials, the valves were successfully implanted in sheep through a minimally invasive technique, with the valves providing proper circulation and demonstrating regenerative properties
Researchers are hopeful that the technology will help create customized, ready-to-use regenerative heart valves faster and more cost-efficiently than current technology enables.
“Our setup is like a very fast cotton candy machine that can spin a range of synthetic and natural occurring materials. In this study, we used a combination of synthetic polymers and ECM proteins to fabricate biocompatible JetValves that are hemodynamically competent upon implantation and support cell migration and re-population in vitro. Importantly, we can make human-sized JetValves in minutes – much faster than possible for other regenerative prostheses,” JetValve team lead Kevin Parker of Harvard’s Wyss Institute said in a prepared release.
Today, both groups said they formed a cross-institutional team looking to generate a functional heart valve replacement with regenerative, reparative and growth potentials. The teams will also work towards creating a GMP-grade version of their manufacturing process to enable larger-scale production.
The heart valves can be manufactured in all desired shapes and sizes for both adult and pediatric patients, according to the development team, taking only seconds to minutes to produce.
“In our previous studies, the cell-derived ECM-coated scaffolds could recruit cells from the receiving animal’s heart and support cell proliferation, matrix remodeling, tissue regeneration, and even animal growth. While these valves are safe and effective, their manufacturing remains complex and expensive as human cells must be cultured for a long time under heavily regulated conditions. The JetValve’s much faster manufacturing process can be a game-changer in this respect. If we can replicate these results in humans, this technology could have invaluable benefits in minimizing the number of pediatric re-operations,” Dr. Simon Hoerstrup of the University of Zurich said in a prepared statement.
“Achieving the goal of minimally invasive, low-cost regenerating heart valves could have tremendous impact on patients’ lives across age-, social- and geographical boundaries. Once again, our collaborative team structure that combines unique and leading expertise in bioengineering, regenerative medicine, surgical innovation and business development across the Wyss Institute and our partner institutions, makes it possible for us to advance technology development in ways not possible in a conventional academic laboratory,” Dr. Donald Ingber of the Wyss Institute said in a press release.