|Every year, more than 250,000 patients worldwide receive heart valve implants. Children require repeated replacement surgery because their bodies are still growing, whereas the prosthetic heart valves are not. Regenerative heart valves can solve this problem. Until now, we have only been able to monitor how these living implants develop in the body after the fact. Thanks to computer models, these processes are now predictable.|
|Speaking of “approval”: What comes next?|
Hoerstrup: Our next step is to apply this technology and support patients who suffer from a congenital heart defect. Since a heart valve features an intricate architecture, we will initially only engineer a tube, meaning a blood vessel via computer simulation for children with heart defects. This is less risky and less sophisticated from a technical perspective. If we achieve positive results with our computer model, our subsequent step would be a heart valve implantation.
What potential do you see in the field of bioengineering?
Hoerstrup: Aside from the cardiovascular field, attempts are made to implement tissue engineering solutions in essentially all organ and tissue systems. We can see a fundamental paradigm shift in this area. From our point of view, it is not just a trend but a sensible medical step to have regenerative or viable implants at our disposal. From a conceptual perspective, a prediction of how these implants develop once inside the body will also become increasingly important. For example, this enables you to predict the forces that act on a bone and project whether a patient’s weight or other characteristics necessitate a customized implant. If our continued experiments garner positive results and if we achieve better control thanks to our computer simulations, I would expect that this technology can and will be implemented in almost all bioengineering fields.
|Interview with Professor Simon P. Hoerstrup, Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Zurich by Elena Blume||medica-tradefair.com, 23.07.2018|
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