Cardiovascular disease still represents the Killer No.1 in the EU accounting for substantial morbidity/mortality and health care cost. Heart valve replacement represents the most common surgical therapy for valvular heart disease with almost 200.000 annual implantations worldwide. Currently, heart valve prosthesis-associated problems occur in 30-35% of patients within 10 years, frequently necessitating risky re-operations. A particularly severe problem relates to children with congenital heart defects (1% of all newborns) who cannot be treated efficiently due to the lack of growths of the clinically available “artificial” valve prostheses. The principal objective of the LifeValve project is to develop a new therapeutic strategy to treat heart valve disease patients more efficiently. Two novel life science technologies will be combined: tissue engineering and minimally invasive implantation technology. In particular, the scientific and technological approach of the LifeValve project is to develop a clinically relevant tissue engineered living heart valve, with the capacity of regeneration and growths which can be implanted by minimally invasive catheter technology. First clinical trials will be enrolled in paediatric patients addressing the currently unmet dramatic medical need for growing implants. A highly interdisciplinary approach combines basic sciences, medical research, engineering and clinical practice. In addition, close industry-academia collaborations are integrated. It is expected that new knowledge applicable for a much broader field of cardiovascular diseases will be generated by the unique combination of consortium partners each representing opinion leaders in their fields. The consortium is compact comprising all the necessary expertise and skills to realize the precisely planned work in a short period of time.The close collaboration of the well interconnected LifeValve consortium will most efficiently contribute to an added value for the EU.
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