Accommodating growth

Posted by / 29-Jul-2020 03:40

Accommodating growth

“It can do this because of unique, braid-like crossfibers of connective tissue that enable the simultaneous elongation and shrinking diameter of its arms, allowing it to extend its reach two to three times beyond the original arm length.” Based on the team’s promising experiments in animal models, the biomedical device company Cryo Life Inc., is currently doing pre-clinical research to develop the concept into a growth-accommodating annuloplasty ring implant for pediatric heart valve repair in humans.

“In combination with the braided sleeve exterior, this two-part implant concept could have many medical applications beyond the most obvious ones to enhance cardiac valve surgery in children,” says del Nido.

Based on the promising in vivo experimental data presented by del Nido and Karp's team, the biomedical device company Cryo Life Inc., is already developing their concept into a growth-accommodating annuloplasty ring implant for pediatric heart valve repair.

"In combination with the braided sleeve exterior, this two-part implant concept could have many medical applications beyond the most obvious ones to enhance cardiac valve surgery in children," says del Nido.

Medical implants can save lives by correcting structural defects in the heart and other organs.

But until now, the use of medical implants in children has been complicated by the fact that fixed-size implants cannot expand in tune with a child's natural growth.

The polymer itself is made of components that already exist in the human body.

"By adjusting the polymer's composition, we can tune the core to degrade predictably over a pre-determined amount of time," says Karp, co-senior author on the study.

“We solved this problem of growth accommodation with a concept that already exists in nature: the octopus has a special ability to stretch its arms into confined cracks and spaces between rocks, in search of its prey,” says Yuhan Lee, Ph D, co-first author on the study and a materials researcher at BWH.

“So, we’ve created an environment here where individuals with expertise and interest in medical devices can come together and collaborate towards developing materials for pediatric surgery.” For this research, del Nido partnered with Jeff Karp, Ph D, a bioengineer and principal investigator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and an associate professor of medicine at HMS, bringing his laboratory’s expertise in chemical engineering and biopolymer materials into the mix.

“The implant design consists of two components: a degrading, biopolymer core and a braided, tubular sleeve that elongates over time in response to the tensile forces exerted by the surrounding growing tissue,” says Eric Feins, MD, co-first author on the paper, who was formerly a research fellow in del Nido’s lab and is currently a fellow in cardiothoracic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Beyond cardiac repair, the research team says the tubular, expanding implant used in their proof-of-concept design could also be adapted for a variety of other growth-accommodating implants throughout the body.

“Medical implants and devices are rarely designed with children in mind, and as a result, they almost never accommodate growth,” says Pedro del Nido, MD, co-senior author on the study, who is chief of cardiac surgery at Boston Children’s and the William E.

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But until now, the use of medical implants in children has been complicated by the fact that fixed-size implants cannot expand in tune with a child’s natural growth.

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