More Hope for Babies Who Need Heart Valves

A few weeks ago I saw this story in a local paper and I’ve been meaning to share it with you. I am so very excited to read this!!! Here’s an excerpt:

Help for growing hearts
Researchers are using bone-marrow stem cells to make valves that will grow as a child ages

BY DELTHIA RICKS – September 14, 2007

Doctors say they are a significant step closer to producing stem-cell-generated heart valves for children, structures that can grow with the child, eliminating the need for repeat surgeries as now is the case when conventional methods are used.

Medical researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston say they can create the valves from stem cells derived from the bone marrow and coax those cells in the lab to grow into a complete, functioning heart valve.

Dr. John Mayer said the valves should be available for clinical trials within the next three years.

“These are stem cells derived from the bone marrow,” Mayer said. “They are not embryonic stem cells.”

“The scaffold is biodegradable, but it mimics the shape and size of a heart valve,” Martin said, adding that when stem cells are introduced to the scaffold, a lattice frame, in the laboratory “they invade it.”

Surgeons have long been able to repair congenital heart defects in children by implanting artificial valves made of synthetic materials, or they have used valves from pigs. Either way, children grow and need replacements, which means at least two or three repeat surgeries.

Mayer, who is a pediatric heart surgeon, said there are several pediatric heart conditions that lend themselves to repair with a tissue-engineered valve. One such condition is called tetralogy of Fallot, a disorder marked by four significant defects, including a damaged pulmonary valve.

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2 comments

  1. Judy says:

    Our son’s heart surgeon told us that in Europe they are doing valve replacements via the femoral vein. We expect our son will need one when he is a teen. By then it should be approved in the US. I haven’t looked into the European methods yet since that is a long way off for us. Plus, we are busy dealing with his decreased appetite right now.
    Glad to know about the possibility of a ‘real’ valve instead of Gore-tex or plastic or whatever they use now!

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