Professor Paul Bannon, Chair, The Baird Institute
Charles Perkins Centre – University of Sydney with researcher, Dr Laurencie Brunel
Recently we have developed a model for looking at mitral valve repair. This model will assist us with the maintenance of heart function when we replace a mitral valve (or any of the heart valves) in a patient. With this research project, we are looking into not only how well the replacement of the valve corrects the valve function, but how well it affects the heart function. Specifically, this will assist with the evaluation of new technology valves as we are able to examine how well they will perform by testing the different designs in this model that we have developed.
The fundamentals of this whole research program will lead into the most exciting component of it – individualised programs for patient correction. Based on the imaging of a patient’s heart, whether that be with echocardiography, a CT scan or an MRI, we are able to individualise the repair of a patient’s heart. When we know the fundamentals of heart function, what we do to a heart and what that in turn does to the heart, then we are able to individualise treatment for a particular patient. So, rather than utilising a valve off the shelf, we would have a valve that suited the patient exactly.
Another exciting component of the study is that we are planning to utilise a 3D bioprint of a heart whereby we take a patient’s scanned heart image, 3D print it and then place the 3D bioprint of the heart in our pump model so as to simulate the patient’s pump function. Using the information gained from the study on the best way to repair a particular patient’s heart, the proposed repair is then tested on the 3D printed model of the heart. As can be seen, the whole program is centred around individualisation rather than off-the-shelf correction, but it also forms a platform that allows us to test the technologies that are being produced by the big valve companies, in addition to allowing us to test our own designs. The work we are doing at present involves testing current techniques for valve repair and replacement and examining what impact they have on heart function, in addition to testing the impact the new technology valve replacements have on heart function.
Although this research has focused on the mitral valve, in the future, we intend to look at the tricuspid vale and the aortic valve, in addition to other areas of the heart so as to ascertain as much information as possible on heart and valve function.