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3D-printed heart valves: Carena Healthcare

Aortic valve disease is becoming an increasing problem in our ageing population. Treating this condition has created a market worth $1.2 billion worldwide, growing at over 30% per year.

The aortic valve is key to the efficient flow of blood around the body, operating in sequence with the heart’s many components. When it becomes diseased due to the build-up of unwanted deposits on the valve leaflets, half of patients will die within two years of symptoms developing. Disease of the aortic valve now affects over 3% of the UK’s elderly population.

The traditional method for treating a defective aortic valve of open heart surgery was revolutionised at the turn of the millennium by a keyhole, transcatheter procedure. However, there are currently only a small number of transcatheter devices available in clinics. These devices are not personalised to the patient and are limited in design by the methods used for manufacture. Recent evidence also suggests that these devices have limited durability.

Researchers from the University of Southampton are combining computational engineering with interventional cardiology to create new ways of addressing heart disease that will deliver a step change in efficiency and production costs. Professor Neil Bressloff and Dr Jon Bailey from the Carena Healthcare medical spinout are using 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques to develop a new generation of transcatheter heart valves.

The revolutionary PILLAR(TM) 3D printed replacement heart valve is optimised for minimally invasive implantation and designed for long-lasting care. This patent pending innovation will allow truly personalised treatment and improved clinical outcomes.

The Carena Healthcare team uses a form of 3D printing called metal sintering in which the 3D shape of the valve frame is built-up, layer by layer, by fusing metallic powder with a laser. This means that device topologies can be far more complex, allowing the next generation of valves to contain a multitude of new and advanced features.

“We have already proven that this manufacturing technique is functional and we have 3D printed devices with topologies that would have previously been impossible to manufacture,” Neil explains. “Furthermore, we have successfully demonstrated that the devices can be deployed in a laboratory setting. We are also developing a novel leaflet system that has been designed to extend the durability of our devices.”

The market for transcatheter heart valves is projected to be worth over $5 billion dollars by 2021. Carena Healthcare is seeking interest from potential investors that could help this promising technology realise its ambition to improve patient outcomes. You can get in touch with Carena Healthcare using the contact form on this page.

An estimated 300,000 people across Europe and the United States could benefit from transcatheter heart valves but, currently, only approximately 10% of them are deemed to be eligible.

“With our advanced manufacturing techniques we have the capability to produce personalised transcatheter valves that will minimize the chance of the valves failing prematurely,” Neil explains.

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Carena Healthcare

Carena Healthcare is developing computational engineering and design tools which can simulate a range of interventional cardiology procedures including stenting and heart valve replacement. This medical spinout, which has resulted from a longstanding collaboration within the University of Southampton, is now prepared to take interventional cardiology device design to a new level as it improves outcomes for patients.

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