Visionary research on building a living, working heart valve for children with congenital heart disease is one of the ways we improve the health of sick children.
At Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital we continuously explore ways to improve the health of sick children. Visionary research on building a living, working heart valve for children with congenital heart disease is one of those ways.
Each year, approximately 40,000 infants are born in the United States with a heart defect. Heart defects are the most common congenital defect and are the leading cause of death in the first year of life. While new technology and surgical innovations have made a tremendous difference in the outcome and quality of life of these young patients, the harsh reality remains that an infant born with heart disease often faces a future of repeated surgeries to replace an outgrown or a congenitally missing heart valve.
Without the option of engineered valves, babies born with valve defects are repaired with mechanical valves made of metal or plastic or with human tissue from organ donors.
Christopher Breuer, MD, and Toshi Shin'oka, MD, surgeons at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, have developed a novel procedure that uses a patient's own cells to create a new, bioengineered heart valve. Because the valve is comprised of living tissue derived from the child's own cells, it grows with the child.
Cardiac tissue engineering is an emerging field that holds great promise for advancing the treatment of heart diseases. By broad definition, tissue engineering involves the construction of tissue equivalents through the manipulation and combination of living cells and biomaterials. It is a multidisciplinary field combining diverse aspects of the life sciences, engineering, and clinical medicine. The overall goal of tissue engineering is to develop tissue equivalents for use in the repair, replacement, maintenance, or augmentation of tissues or organs.
At Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital our bench-to-bedside approach to medicine is helping to revolutionize heart care for children.