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Progress Made in Tissue-Engineered Heart Valves

Researchers experiment with ways to 'grow' heart valves with a patient's own cells

THURSDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Pre-coating a biodegradeable scaffold with extracellular matrix proteins can help guide the type of tissue formed when engineering heart valves, according to the results of an animal study published online Sept. 10 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Virna L. Sales, M.D., of Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues pre-coated polyglycerol sebacate valve scaffolds with extracellular matrix proteins and seeded them with progenitor cells derived from sheep to assess how the different proteins would affect cellular growth and differentiation.

Pre-coating of scaffolds resulted in increased cellularity of valves and greater production of extracellular matrix proteins compared to uncoated controls. Furthermore, the type of coating affected the phenotypes of progenitor cells. The researchers also showed that engineered valves were more pliable than unseeded scaffolds.

These findings may help researchers engineer tissue valves with appropriate characteristics so they can eventually be implanted into children, eliminating the need for repeat valve replacements as children grow. "Scaffold pre-coating with extracellular matrix proteins can allow more precise 'engineering' of cellular behavior in the development of tissue-engineered heart valve constructs by altering extracellular matrix production and cell phenotype," the authors conclude.

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