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Coatings monitor the blood burble and increase the longevity of prosthetic heart valves

Prosthetic heart valves usually consist of carbon. During service, blood components are deposited on their surfaces and the risk of a thrombosis increases. The function of the heart valves is also limited by the deposits. For this reason, follow-up heart surgery is often unavoidable.

In an international joint project, scientists are now testing prosthetic pumping systems, in which coatings increase the longevity of heart valves. At the same time, they are able to monitor the heart valve. The project "HeartSen" is led by the INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials.

The prosthetic heart valves are tested in a pumping system outside the human body. In these systems, human blood or blood substitutes are running around in circles. The two overlapping coatings on the heart valves fulfill various purposes: "At first, we apply a magnetic layer", says Cenk Aktas, the head of the program division "CVD/Biosurfaces" at INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials. "A sensor which is outside the heart valve transmits the signals of this magnetic layer. Depending on how well the blood flows through, we receive different signals, which give us information about the valves function", continues the project leader. The second layer works as protective layer to prevent the deposition of blood components. "By combining these two layers, we can precisely design the protective layer to optimize longevity of the heart valve ", says the materials scientist Aktas.

The prosthetic valves consist of titan. Both layers are applied one after another. Similar to hot water vapor on the pot lid, the materials precipitate on the titan valve in a very thin, uniform layer. The protective layer consists of adamantine carbon. With a thickness of 100 to 150 nm (millionths of a millimeter), the artificial system is comparable to prosthetic heart valves.

In the joint project "HeartSean", scientists from four institutions are working together: INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials, Saarbrücken/Germany, the Pediatric Cardiology of Saarland University Hospital, Homburg/Germany, and Indian Institute of Technology Madras as well as Kocaeli University, Turkey. The project started in July 2011 under the leadership of INM. The research project comprises an overall budget of 150,000 euros and is set up for two years. "HeartSen" is part of the project "New Indigo", a cooperation between Europe and India. This cooperation stems from the Seventh Framework Programme FP7, which bundles all research-related EU initiatives together under a common roof, the initiatives playing a central role in reaching the goals of growth, competitiveness, and employment.
Cenk Aktas
INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials
Phone: +49 681 9300 140
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INM is focused on the research and development of materials – for today, tomorrow and the future. Chemists, physicists, biologists, materials and engineering scientists shape the work at INM. From molecule to pilot production, they follow the recurring questions: Which material properties are new, how can they be investigated and how can they be used in the future?

INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials, situated in Saarbrücken/Germany, is an internationally leading centre for materials research. It is a scientific partner to national and international institutes and a provider of research and development for companies throughout the world. INM is an institute of the Scientific Association Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and employs around 190 collaborators. Its main research fields are Chemical Nanotechnology, Interface Materials, and Materials in Biology.

Dr. Carola Jung | idw
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