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Surgeon building a heart valve that can grow and repair itself


The work of pediatric heart surgeon Frank Hanley, MD, an expert in the repair of defective heart valves, is the focus of a San Francisco Chronicle piece today:

Hanley is one of a handful of researchers around the country trying to build a heart valve made of living human tissue that would grow with a child and repair itself over time. It's a remarkably complicated task that incorporates stem cell science and biomechanical engineering, and an understanding of exactly how tissues grow and function amid the constant rush of blood in a beating heart - and scientists have been stuck on it for more than a decade.

Hanley, who directs the Children's Heart Center at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, said the research described in the article is "years, maybe decades, away from being used in humans." But the hope is that the work will eventually eliminate the lifetime of surgeries that children with valve defects now face.

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