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International collaboration focused on low cost synthetic heart valves

Researchers from The Ohio State University, Colorado State University and PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in India have received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to develop low cost replacement heart valves.

The team will focus on novel heart valves made from biocompatible plastic materials to address problems associated with rheumatic heart valve disease, the most common form of valve disease in developing nations. About 60 percent of people with rheumatic fever develop some degree of subsequent heart disease.

Prasad Dasi with heart valve prototypeOhio State Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Prasad Dasi will lead the project in the U.S., while cardiothoracic surgeon P.R. Murugesan is principal investigator in India. Co-investigators on the project are Colorado State’s Head of Mechanical Engineering Susan James, engineering professor V Chandrasekar and associate professor Ketul Popat, as well as PSG Institute's Dr. Ramalingam Sankaran.

Funded through NIH's Indo-US Collaborative Program on Affordable Medical Devices, the $243,700 grant will be complemented by 2.82 million rupees from India's Department of Biotechnology.

According to Dasi, an expert in heart valve engineering and cardiovascular biomechanics, there is a pressing need in India for low cost heart valves that do not require the patient to take anticoagulation drugs.

“Indian patients who receive mechanical heart valves must remain on lifelong medication to prevent blood clotting,” he said. “And bioprosthestic valves, usually made from cow or pig tissue, are prone to hardening and don’t last more than 10 to 15 years.”

The artificial heart valves Dasi and colleagues are developing are made of flexible plastic materials containing hyaluronan, a molecule found in any soft tissue. The valve design will be optimized to last longer than synthetic options currently available.

More than 290,000 heart valve procedures are performed annually worldwide and that number is estimated to triple by 2050.

Dasi said the next generation heart valves also will be easier to manufacture, reducing overall costs. Lower cost, longer durability and freedom from anticoagulation therapy will benefit patients throughout the world.

Research and development will occur simultaneously at The Dorothy M. Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute at Ohio State and in the Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Bioengineering Building at Colorado State. A new PSG Institute lab in Coimbatore, India, will coordinate preclinical evaluation of the valves.

heart valve NIH projectSynthetic heart valve prototypes in development by Dasi and colleaguesIn addition to implantable low cost heart valves, the team hopes their innovative strategy can be translated and engineered as a trans-catheter heart valve, thereby eliminating the need for open heart surgery. This is particularly important in India, where risk of death from post-operative infection is much greater than in the United States. A trans-catheter approach would reduce the size of the incision and length of hospital recovery time.

The Indo-US Collaborative Program was established to foster joint activities between American and Indian scientists on affordable diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, and to address medical needs in low-resource settings. The research grant program emphasizes technologies that increase healthcare access, address global health disparities and address the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the poor.

Media contact: Matt Schutte, or 614-247-6445