NIH awards Clemson bioengineer $1.5 million to improve durability of tissue heart valves

September 25, 2008

CLEMSON -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Naren Vyavahare, Hunter Endowed Chair and professor of bioengineering at Clemson University, more than $1.5 million over four years to develop durable bioprosthetic heart valves (BHVs).

Aortic valves taken from pigs are used in thousands of human heart valve replacement surgeries annually, but they have a high rate of failure due to degeneration and calcification. It is estimated more than 50 percent fail within five to 15 years of implantation. Vyavahare's goal is to extend the biological durability of BHVs beyond 20 years.

"We've identified a problem where viscoelasticity is lost during tissue fixation and after implantation, and maintaining the structural integrity of the tissue matrix in the processed tissue is essential for these types of implants to work," said Vyavahare. "Our recent studies show that the chemical linking of neomycin to tissue, an inhibitor of the enzymes that degrade the tissue matrix, lead to significantly better stabilization of the valve tissue."

Vyavahare says improvements in durability will allow surgeons to implant the valves in the younger patient population.

Vyavahare and his group at Clemson have studied the problem of calcification in arteries and heart valves for nine years. The long-term fatigue damage study funded by NIH is unprecedented in the BHV field. The Clemson group has collaborations with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Minnesota.
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The project is supported by Award Number R01HL070969 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National heart, Lung and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Clemson University

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