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Advanced Manufacturing for Cardiac Valves

   Department of Biomedical Engineering

   Friday, March 31, 2023  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Cardiac valve replacement is a life-saving surgical procedure that helps restore quality of life for over 10,000 people each year in the UK and many more worldwide. Current replacement technologies comprise either mechanical valves or the use of biological tissue valves.   Mechanical heart valves are highly durable, but their limited biocompatibility necessitates the use of life-long anticoagulant and antiplatelet therapies. Such therapy makes even routine surgery either high risk or simply not possible. Moreover, much of the global burden of valve disease is found within the developing world, where rheumatic fever prevalence remains high.  Within such settings, pharmacological therapies are often unavailable, meaning that biological heart valves are the preferred alternative. However, these valves suffer from limited durability, which is a particularly important limitation in younger patients that represent most cases in developing countries. Significant research efforts across industry and healthcare have therefore been focused on the development of synthetic heart valves, which combine the longevity of mechanical devices whilst preserving the biocompatibility achieved with biological alternatives. Our team have been developing a uniquely promising synthetic heart valve that we believe will provide enhanced performance compared to current alternatives.  In this studentship project, a series of prototypes of the valve will be produced using a range of manufacturing methods and materials, including advanced additive manufacturing technologies available through our partnership with the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland, with key aspects of performance characterised using in vitro and in silico models. The data gathered will be used to optimise the selection of materials and design a manufacturing strategy for production of a final prototype, which will be subject to final in vitro assessment. This will contribute to the evidence basis being gathered as part of a wider strategic collaboration already underway, thereby accelerating progress towards completion of a pre-clinical study in the period following completion of the studentship project. The project will draw on a range of academic experts across biomedical engineering and advanced manufacturing, allied to clinical expertise, meaning that the student will benefit from a truly multidisciplinary training experience.

Funding Notes

The studentship funding package means that applications are limited to UK applicants only

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