Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Improved heart grafts for children

Available grafts for congenital disorders often require complex and reconstructive surgical interventions and do not grow on their own. Researchers have started development of an alternative product to mitigate these issues.
Improved heart grafts for children
The traditional tissue engineering approach to create heart grafts requires invasive cell harvesting from the patient, which can be damaging and time consuming. There is a real need to create a 'cell-less' alternative to the current prostheses that can grow, adapt and regenerate.

The EU-funded LIVAGRAFT (Improvement of the clinical applicability of tissue-engineered vascular grafts, as new regenerative therapy for children with congenital cardiovascular malformations) initiative aimed to create off-the-shelf grafts for children with congenital heart problems.

LIVAGRAFT cultured tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs) in the laboratory to develop a method of culturing them and removing cells. The researchers optimised the incubation time and the washing steps in this process to find the best protocol.

The research team had the task of showing that these decellularised grafts have the capacity to grow and adapt with the recipient as do cellular TEVGs. They implanted human cell-derived TEVGs as a pulmonary artery replacement in an animal model to show its durability.

Project partners demonstrated for the first time that preclinical off-the-shelf decellularised vascular grafts that can regenerate have good clinical potential. They also showed that their grafts can successfully compete with cellular TEVGs.

The team confirmed that the decellularised grafts have the capacity to grow and adapt with the recipient. The researchers worked with the Swiss TransMed LifeMatrix project to ensure that the product would comply with regulations for human use in the EU.

LIVAGRAFT results are slated to favour patients by reducing waiting time, avoiding reoperations and reducing health costs.

Related information

Keywords

Heart grafts, children, congenital disorders, LIVAGRAFT, tissue-engineered vascular grafts
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