No matter what shade of red your Valentine’s Day was last month—sultry or sullen, sad or sweet—your heart beat more than 100,000 times, pumping 7500 liters of blood. Designing a device to achieve such precision and maintain it over a lifetime (about 70 years) requires integration of biology and engineering at a staggering level. Understandably then, despite great progress, design of adaptable, living heart valves has not been achieved. Prosthetic valves, for example, are nonliving structures that lack the functionality to respond to dynamic blood flow across days and years or the ability to grow with younger patients. Bouten and colleagues tackled this challenge with a fully synthetic heart valve designed from slowly degrading polymer that utilizes structural features to promote colonization by host cells, allowing the synthetic valve to be slowly replaced by functional tissue.

“50 shades of red”
By Christopher M. Jewell
Science Translational Medicine 01 Mar 2017

Each year, over 1 million people become patients of cardiological hospitals around the world. In this group, children are those, who are mostly in need for new technology in heart valve treatment. Childs body grows fast, and implanted scaffolds become quickly obsolete, forcing the small patient to once more overcome the risky surgery.

I regard my mission as a road to development of a scaffold, that would behave like a living part of the body, and be treated as such by the patient’s own system. I would like to create a technology, that would allow creation of a smart heart valve scaffold using cost-effective methods, to make it available for many. The scaffold would promote cell overgrow through its structure and dissolve in time, living only a new fully operant and healthy heart valve. The concept is very elaborate as the heart valve is a complicated organ. To obtain the right base for the scaffold I chose the textile technology as a leading device in the project. Textile scaffold, created by using an innovative weaving technology, can be seeded with specific cells to encourage the overgrowth. Due to versatility of textile technology, the created structure can be made to imitate the shape of the valve. Moreover the fibrous nature of textiles allow to prepare the scaffold in a way, that will promote the cell growth in the same directions as in a natural valve. By doing so, the valve can be recreated in the patient’s body. No more surgeries needed, especially for the youngest patients, as the new valve will be with them to the rest of their lives. This is a concept that I am developing to make my mission successful. A dream, that I wish to bring to reality.

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