Australian research develops first polymer heart valve

A polymer heart valve, designed in Australia, has been successful implanted in a patient, for a world first.

The joint project between CSIRO and medical device manufacturer Foldax created the Tria heart valve.

The valve uses a proprietary CSIRO polymer which could pump blood for decades without calcification, risk of clotting, or damage to red blood cells.

Designed by CSIRO in Australia, the polymer valve acts against aortic valve disease, which occurs when the main pumping chamber of the heart and the body’s main artery stop functioning properly.

The polymer which CSIRO designed, named LifePolymer, is a biopolymer manufactured to be used in critical surgical procedures.

The polymer is manufactured for global distribution by Salt Lake City, Utah medical manufacturer Foldax. The innovation overcomes a significant stepping stone for the introduction of polymers to humans, said executive chairman of Foldax, Ken Charhut.

“Tria heart valves are revolutionising the industry as the first and only biopolymer heart valve platform using LifePolymer material, eliminating the use of animal tissue,” said Charhut.

“What makes this so different from other heart valves is that we were able to design the valve to mimic the native valve.”

Foldax utilises a robotic process for the manufacture of the LifePolymer, and the partnership are looking into using the material for other uses, including coatings for stents, vascular grafts, or synthetic membranes to rectify ear drum ruptures.

“From polymer bank notes and extended wear contact lenses to life-changing biomedical applications like Elast-Eon which is used in cardiac pace makers implanted in over 10 million people worldwide, CSIRO uses innovative new materials to solve the greatest challenges,” said CSIRO deputy director of manufacturing, Dr Paul Savage.