Project HeartSEN—Surface Engineered Coatings on Mechanical Heart Valves: Diagnostics of Thrombosis—brings together scientists from INM Leibniz Institute for New Materials and the Pediatric Cardiology of Saarland University Hospital, both of which are located in Germany; the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in India; and Kocaeli University in Turkey.
The goal of the international project is to develop coatings layered with magnetic and haemocompatible films for use with heart valves. The coatings reportedly will increase the longevity of heart valves and allow them to be monitored for early detection of thrombosis.
The prosthetic heart valves are tested in a pumping system outside the human body, in which human blood or blood substitutes are circulated. The two overlapping coatings on the heart valves fulfill various purposes, according to Cenk Aktas, the head of the program division CVD/Biosurfaces at INM.
“First, we apply a magnetic layer. 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 valve’s function,” says Aktas. The second layer works as a protective element to prevent the deposition of blood components. “By combining these two layers, we can precisely design the protective layer to optimise longevity of the heart valve,” Aktas adds.
The two layers are applied successively to the titanium valve. Similar to hot water vapour collecting on a pot lid, the materials precipitate on the valve in a thin, uniform layer.
The HeartSEN project began in July 2011 under the leadership of Cenk Aktas and Aryasomayajula Subrahmanyam, Department of Physics, IIT Madras. It will run for two years and has an overall operating budget €150,000.