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Heart valves that grow with the patient
Date:10/21/2008

When German President Horst Khler awards the German Future Prize for 2008 on 3 December in Berlin, researchers and research projects funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will once again be the focus of attention. Professor Axel Haverich, a heart surgeon and Leibniz prizewinner from Hannover Medical School (MHH), and his two colleagues Dr. Serghei Cebotari and Dr. Michael Harder are one of four teams who have made the final round of the President's award for engineering and innovation, worth 250,000 euros. This is the result of the preliminary selection that was announced on Tuesday by the Head of the Office of the Federal President, Undersecretary of State Dr. Gert Haller, in Berlin. The three scientists were nominated for the development and successful transplantation of tissue engineered biological cardiac valves for children , which grow with the patients an innovation in both medicine and medical technology which has been supported by the DFG with funds from the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize.

The "decellularised and re-colonised pulmonary valves" developed by Haverich and his team provide child patients with significantly improved chances of survival and a better quality of life. In Europe around 1,200 heart valve transplants a year are performed on children. The mechanical heart valves normally used in these operations have the disadvantage that they require lifelong blood thinning treatment and are susceptible to infections. The biological heart valves from pigs or cows used as an alternative are again only of limited durability. Children with heart valve defects therefore normally have to undergo multiple operations with all the physical and psychological pressures and risks this entails.

Haverich and his colleagues, on the other hand, use heart valves that are "grown" from the young patient's natural body cells. To do this, a valve from a human or animal donor is removed of all cells u
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Contact: Dr. Eva-Maria Streier
em.streier@dfg.de
49-228-885-2250
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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