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New study could revolutionize heart valve replacement technology

New research from The Ohio State University could mean fewer operations and less medication for patients suffering from heart valve disease.

Led by Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Lakshmi Prasad Dasi, the “Superhydrophobic Heart Valve Prosthesis” project received a four-year $2.9 million R01 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Patients with heart valve disease have had limited options in the past: either mechanical valves, which are durable, but require a lifelong regimen of blood-thinners, or tissue (bioprosthetic) valves, which don’t require as much medication, but tend to wear out over time. If successful, the team’s research could promise the best of both worlds, especially for young patients.

A team of graduate biomedical engineering students will also collaborate on the project. From left, Hoda Hatoum, Michael Mastran and Megan Heitkemper. Above: Professor Lakshmi Prasad Dasi works in the lab with graduate assistant Mastran.

“Currently, young patients who need an artificial heart valve receive mechanical heart valves which require a life-long regimen of blood thinners,” explained Dasi, an expert in heart valve engineering and cardiovascular biomechanics. “In this study, we aim to develop advanced artificial heart valves using concepts of super-hydrophobicity and flow control that will lead to superior blood compatibility and potentially eliminate the need for blood thinners.”

The researchers have engineered a superhydrophobic bileaflet mechanical heart valve (BMHV) with vortex generator technology. Superhydrophobic surfaces are extremely waterproof. When combined with vortex generators, which are millimeter scale features on the surface, this novel technology drastically improves surface blood compatibility and reduces turbulence, which benefits blood cells while also preventing blood clots from forming. Using animal trials, the team will assess the commercial potential of this innovative approach. If the study proves to be successful, it will be a breakthrough in heart valve replacement technology.

“The impact is that younger patients can receive a replacement heart valve that will serve them for the rest of their lives without the need for additional operations or strong blood thinner therapy,” said Dasi.

This image depicts the reaction of a blood droplet with a superhydrophobic-coated surface (right) versus a surface without the protective coating (left).

Collaborators on the study include Ketul Popat, Arun Kota and David Bark, Colorado State University; Juan Crestanello, Ohio State; and Christopher Breuer, Toshiharu Shinoka and Kan N. Hor, Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Research reported in this story was supported by the National Institutes of Health under award number 1R01HL135505-01A1

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications |