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UBC Okanagan researchers develop ‘next generation’ prosthetic heart valve

Click to play video: 'UBC Okanagan researchers develop improved prosthetic heart value' UBC Okanagan researchers develop improved prosthetic heart value
After five years in development, researchers at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus have engineered a new and improved mechanical heart value. Researchers involved in the design, are hoping their new 'Apex heart valve' will eventually become the 'gold standard'. – Feb 9, 2021

After five years in development, researchers at UBC Okanagan have engineered a new and improved mechanical heart valve.

Researchers at the university’s heart valve performance lab (HVPL) are hoping their new ‘Apex’ heart valve will eventually become the gold standard for cardiothoracic surgery.

“The purpose of research at the HVPL is the design and the development of the next generation of prosthetic heart valves,” said Hadi Mohamaddi, an associate professor with UBCO’s school of engineering.

According to Mohamaddi and his colleagues at the HVP lab, that ‘next generation’ is here and now with their latest man-made heart valve.
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“We actually named it the ‘Apex’ valve because we believe that it’s going to go all the way to the top,” Mohamaddi explained.

The benefit of UBCO’s new ‘Apex’ valve design, say researchers, is that it combines the performance of bio-prosthetic heart valves made with tissue with the traditional longevity of mechanical heart valves.

“The best of both worlds,” said Mohammadi.

Researchers also say it eliminates the need for blood-thinning drugs and another, possible open-heart surgery down the road to replace a worn-out valve.

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“We believe that this design could be a game-changer,” Mohamaddi said.

With 300,000 heart-valve replacement surgeries done worldwide every year, the ‘Apex’ is big news when it comes to advancing cardiothoracic surgery.

“Over last 50 years, mechanical heart valve design has been pretty stagnant,” said UBCO Ph.D. candidate Dylan Good, who is part of the HVPL.

“This mechanical heart valve is able to take that design to the future and revolutionize it, with the same performance as a native valve,” Good explained.

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 Researchers say the next step for the ‘Apex’ is to be implanted in an animal.

“Hopefully after that, we can do a human trial and maybe we can actually commercialize it,” Mohamaddi said.

It’s a process that Mohammadi hopes will happen sooner than later, in order to get the valve into the hands and hearts of those who need it.

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