Tissue Engineering of Heart Valves

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Materials


This project will manufacture scaffolds for tissue engineering of heart valves using only materials that exist within the native heart valve. It is part of an ongoing collaboration with Prof C Carr in DPAG. We will make a structure that mimics the tri-layer architecture of native heart valves: that is, a region which is predominantly type I collagen, an intermediate layer that comprises GAGs plus collagen and a final layer that will be rich in elastin. Such a structure should also mimic the natural biological and elastic responses, which will give a more optimal outcome. There are over 250, 000 valve replacements per year with reported lifetimes of up to 15 years. This is clearly a great achievement but longer lifetimes are now needed.

The micro-architecture to be generated is based on very recent work done in my group, and the arrangement is entirely novel. The aims are: (1) to manufacture scaffolds using 'monomeric' atelocollagen (2) to make IPNs from collagen and GAGs, (3) to make a composite collagen- elastin scaffold (4) to produce the trilayer structure.

At each stage the materials will be characterised using both microstructural and spectroscopic techniques to monitor any changes to the starting materials. The pore size, shape and wall integrity will be examined by SEM. Bulk structures will be examined via micro-XRT. The mechanical properties will be investigated with an emphasis on the elastic and viscoelastic responses in flexural mode, plus the fracture response.
This project falls within the remit of the Healthcare Technologies of epsrc.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509711/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1802456 Studentship EP/N509711/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2020 Sonia Iftekhar
Description DPAG 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provide scaffolds for experiments.
Collaborator Contribution Provide lab space, equipment and materials for cell studies.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration. There is a mix of molecular biology, chemistry and genetics. We are able to conduct in vitro testing of our scaffolds to test their viability and suitability for applications in tissue engineering.
Start Year 2017