Current medical technology to replace heart valves is problematic for the patient. Patients with mechanical heart valves must take anticoagulation therapy to prevent blood clots. This solution can cause morbidity. Patients with bioprosthetic heart valves face degeneration and calcification of the implanted valve over time, which may cause more than one surgery in the lifetime of a younger patient.
Assistant Professor Soumen Jana in the Department of Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering wants to develop a different solution for heart valve repair. And the projected goal of this solution is a tissue-engineered heart valve that grows and works like native heart valves.
“I am looking at developing a biodegradable scaffold that looks like and works like a heart valve,” Jana said. “This valve would be non-toxic, porous and fibrous.”
After replacing the individual damaged heart valve with the scaffold, the cells from the patient’s body would naturally grow into the scaffold. The cells would proliferate and produce tissue materials in and around the scaffold structure. Then the scaffold would gradually degrade, and the patient would have their own naturally developed heart valve.
“We are providing the native-mimicked scaffold structure to guide the cells in order to develop the natural heart valve,” Jana said.
This research application uses nano/microtechnology and tissue engineering. Tissue engineering, according to Jana, is the process of developing new tissue, whether outside or inside the body, to replace or cure damaged tissue.
The funds for this research come from the National Institutes of Health. This grant is for a 5-year period and totals over $1 million.
Jana earned his PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Washington. Prior to joining BBCE, he worked as a research associate in the Mayo Clinic’s Division of Cardiovascular Diseases. Jana then came to Mizzou to further his research.
“Mizzou had the facilities I needed to further conduct my research. I also talked to professors in other departments. They were very cordial and willing to help me,” Jana said.
Read more about Jana’s work with nanotechnology in tissue engineering here.