The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a $150,000 research grant to MedShape, Inc. It’s a Phase I STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) entitled “Development of a Surgical and Transcatheter Polymeric Heart Valve.” An STTR is a research grant awarded to a collaboration between small business and academia. In this case, MedShape is the small business and the University of Colorado Denver and Emory University represent academia.

The main investigators of this grant are CU Denver Assistant Professor Chris Yakacki, PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jack Griffis (MedShape) and Sai Muralidhar Padala of Emory. They anticipate applying for Phase II funding of $1,000,000.

The grant application notes: valvular heart disease is significant in the United States, prevalent in 2.5% of the total population (8.75 million) and 13.3% of adults beyond 65 years of age (5.78 million) in 2011. Replacement of diseased heart valves with man-made mechanical or bioprosthetic valves is a routine cardiac surgical procedure today, yet one which is plagued with high rates of failure due to the need for anti-coagulation therapy with mechanical valves and the rapid degeneration associated with bioprosthetic valves. In this application, we propose the development and testing of a novel polymeric heart valve, prepared from a resilient, highly durable material with exquisite shape-memory properties.

“Current polymer-based heart valves do not have the necessary mechanical properties to last in such a dynamic and demanding environment,” said Yakacki. “We are looking into developing a new class of polymer heart valves that exhibit strength and fatigue resistance up to ten-times greater than the current standard of materials.”

Yakacki previously was the MedShape Principal Scientist and had been a co-founder of the company ( known as MedShape Solutions) founded out of CU-Boulder.

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