A safer way to replace a pulmonary heart valve–the sky's the limit now

Of course, with the evolution of stem cell science, we’ve all just been waiting with bated breath to hear about using them for replacing pieces of the heart (well, I have anyway). And now, here’s the first piece of research that’s not just “dreaming big” but is actually approved by the FDA.

Scientists have found a way to strip a human heart valve (from a cadaver) of the cells and debris a heart normally contains. Then after cleaning and decontaminating it, what remains of the “heart valve” to be transplanted is a web of connective tissue that has a lower chance of triggering the body’s immune response/rejection mechanisms. Two big benefits of this approach: eliminates the need for lifelong blood-thinning medications, and the replacement has less chance of calcifying than a pig or cow heart valve. So far, they’ve done this for the heart’s pulmonary valve (check out the illustration).

This is a huge step forward in our ability to combat heart and other organ diseases. Congratulations to CryoLife Inc. on its CryoValve SynerGraft Pulmonary Valve and Valved-Conduit Allograft.