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Using skin cells to engineer pulmonary valves for pediatric heart patients.

CHICAGO, Ill., September 24, 2014 -- Researchers have figured out how to reprogram a pediatric heart patient's skin cells as heart valvular cells, and then use the cells build a pulmonary valve that grows with the patient, according to a proof-of-concept study.

Valve replacements used now cannot grow with patients as they age.

The use of a patient-specific pulmonary valve would introduce a "living" valvular construct that should grow with the patient.

"Our study is particularly important for pediatric patients who often require repeated operations for pulmonary valve replacements," said lead author David L. Simpson of the University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore, Md.).

Simpson, senior co-author Sunjay Kaushal and colleagues designed a process to transform skin cells from a simple biopsy into cells that become an important ingredient in a tissue-engineered pulmonary valve.

The pulmonary valve is a crescent-shaped valve that lies between the heart's right ventricle and pulmonary artery. It is responsible for moving blood from the heart into the lungs.

While the study was conducted in vitro (in test tubes outside of the body), the next step will be implanting the new valves into patients to test their durability and longevity.

The researchers created a pulmonary valve that is unique to the individual patient and contains living cells from that patient.

The valve is less likely to be destroyed by the patient's immune system, thus improving the outcome and hopefully increasing the quality of life for our patient.

"In the future, it may be possible to generate this pulmonary valve by using a blood sample instead of a skin biopsy," Kaushal said.

Simpson hopes the study will encourage additional research in tissue engineering and entice more people to enter the field, and move quickly to clinical trials.

It is estimated that nearly 800 patients a year could benefit from bioengineered patient-specific pulmonary valves, according to data from the STS Congenital Heart Surgery Database.

The Database, which collects information from more than 95 percent of hospitals in the U.S. and Canada that perform pediatric and congenital heart surgery, shows that approximately 3,200 patients underwent pulmonary valve replacement during a 4-year period from January 2010 to December 2013.

Citation: "Engineering Patient-Specific Valves Using Stem Cells Generated From Skin Biopsy Specimens"; David L. Simpson et al.; The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, September 2014, DOI: 10.1016/ j.athoracsur.2014.04.075.

Abstract: http://dx.doi.Org/10.1016/j.athoracsur.2014.04.075

Contact: Sunjay Kaushal,

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Title Annotation:Advanced Stem Cell Technology
Publication:Stem Cell Business News
Date:Oct 6, 2014
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