Patent number 8551502 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in
"The second most common heart operation in the western world is heart valve replacement . The main types of replacement valves for heart-valve replacements are mechanical and bioprosthetic, both with advantages and disadvantages. Mechanical heart valves are made of non-biologic materials, and their advantages are their durability and structural reliability. Their main disadvantages are the patient risk of thromboembolism due to the poor blood compatibility and flow abnormalities. To reduce the risk, the patient requires lifetime anticoagulant therapy [3, 4]. Bioprosthetic heart valves are made in part of animal tissue, thus maintaining a low level of thromboembolism without the need of long-term anticoagulant therapy. They also have improved hemodynamics because their flow pattern is similar to natural valves. However, their major disadvantage is their limited durability, due to structural dysfunction from calcification and noncalcific tissue deterioration. More than 50% of them fail between 10 to 15 years and require re-operation [3, 4, 5].
"One of the most common treatments for coronary artery disease is coronary artery bypass surgery, which is the revascularization of the damaged myocardium . Normally, a suitable length of the patient's saphenous vein is used to provide blood to the heart tissue. The main disadvantage is 'vein graft disease', which is the deterioration and occlusion of the vein graft due to further advancement of the patient's coronary artery disease [7, 1].
"Therefore, here lies the need to develop a material that will not only display similar mechanical properties as the tissue it is replacing, but also shows improved life span. One promising class of materials are hydrogels.
"Hydrogels are hydrophilic polymer networks produced from reactions of one or more monomers or by association bonds between chains that can absorb from at least 20% to up to thousands of times their dry weight in water [8, 9]. Hydrogels may be chemically stable or they may disintegrate and dissolve with time. They are called either physical (reversible) or chemical (permanent) hydrogels. Physical hydrogels have networks held together by molecular entanglements and/or secondary forces such as hydrogen bonding,
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