The aim of Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering is the cultivation of completely autologous cardiovascular implants. Figure 1 illustrates the manufacturing principle of such an autologous heart valve, for example, on the basis of a fibrin gel scaffold. From a biopsy (vein, artery, umbilical cord), the intended cell sources are isolated and cultivated. In parallel, the fibrin gel components are also isolated from a patient’s blood sample.
In an injection moulding procedure, a tricuspid heart valve is manufactured from the structural cells (myofibroblasts) and the fibrin gel matrix. The heart valve is subsequently “conditioned” in a bioreactor system in order to form a stable, implantable structure.
In a second step, the surface of the valve is coated with an endothelial cell lining using dynamic cultivation in a bioreactor.
A completely autologous heart valve results at the end of the manufacturing process, which can subsequently be (re)implanted into the patient.