Research Highlights

Porous biomaterial makes for better heart valves scaffolds

Published online 6 January 2014

Biplab Das

The materials used to build nanoscaffolds in heart valves are typically packed together with pores of a size too small to properly guide the colonization and growth of cells.

Now, a research team, led by cardiothoracic surgeon Magdi Yacoub from Imperial College, London and Qatar Cardiovascular Research Centre, Doha, has built a highly porous scaffold with biomaterial that enhances the environment of the cell and, in turn, the function and proliferation of cells, publishing their findings in Biomaterials.

The scientists sprayed a polymer solution on a voltage-driven rotating drum. The resulting structures, collected on the drum surface, were macroscopically aerated to form pores twice as large as those produced by older techniques. The highly porous matrices allowed a swift and thorough cellular colonization in 10 days.

They then cultured human adipose-derived stromal cells (hADSCs) onto the scaffold over 20 days. Besides being biocompatible, the scaffolds facilitated the colonization, proliferation and migration of hADSCs. Extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins such as collagen (the major ECM protein in heart valves) and tropoelastin were also deposited on the cells.

"The nanofibrillar scaffolds designed to guide the process of cellular repopulation is an important step towards prolonging life and enhancing the quality of life for patients with advanced heart disease with defective valve," says Yacoub.


  1. Sohier, J. et al. The potential of anisotropic matrices as substrate for heart valve engineering. Biomaterials 35, 1833-1844 (2014).