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Grow With You

Replacement heart valve for infants that grows with the recipient

30 April 2021

Grow With You

Every year, thousands of babies are born with abnormal heart valves, causing serious health problems. The only treatment option is surgery to fit replacement valves made from chemically treated animal tissues. However, these valves often become clogged and stop working properly. They also don’t grow with the child, so they have to be replaced every few years through risky open-heart surgeries. Researchers have now developed a new type of heart valve grown in the lab from skin cells, shown in this image. When tested in lambs, the researchers found that the new valves can keep growing inside the body for over a year as the animals grow up. They also have better blood flow and are less likely to become clogged than current replacement valves. These new replacement valves can be stored for up to six months, potentially creating an ‘off the shelf’ option for babies who urgently need treatment.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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