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Dr Steven Wise, Leader of the Applied Materials Group at HRI, has been awarded a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Development Grant for his work inventing a sealant technology for valves used in heart surgery.

Aortic stenosis is the most common heart valve disease, affecting more than one in eight people aged over 75. The standard treatment for this disease is aortic valve replacement, which involves open heart surgery, but almost half of patients requiring treatment are deemed too high risk for this procedure.

The next best treatment option for these patients is transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), a less invasive approach through keyhole surgery. However, this option is also flawed due to the high potential of the replacement valve to develop a leak.

“Even a moderate leak seriously increases a patient's risk of dying in the three years after the procedure, and attempts to solve this leak problem come with serious risk of stroke and heart damage,” explains Dr Wise. “As a result, many of the highest risk patients are left with no safe treatment option.”

The innovative hydrogel seal we have developed is able to stop the leak, giving high-risk patients a far safer treatment option to extend their life.”

The Development Grant, awarded to Dr Wise (Chief Investigator B), Associate Professor Martin Ng (Chief Investigator A, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), and Dr Raj Makkar (Chief Investigator C, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) in partnership with Sydney-based start-up Endoluminal Sciences, will support work to commercially develop their sealant technology, making a safer and more effective heart valve treatment available to the thousands who need it every year.

The NHMRC Development Grants scheme supports the commercial development of a research outcome that, if applied, would result in improved health care, disease prevention or provide health cost savings. Only 20 NHMRC Development Grants have been awarded across Australia this year, and only three in NSW.

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