Major Advance in Cardiovascular Medicine There are currently no synthetic materials available for vessel bypass or replacements that are clinically effective at low diameters. Dr. Steven Wise from The Heart Research Institute has developed a new synthetic vessel built from human elastin – the major protein component of large arteries. The synthetic elastin vessels have been engineered to match the elasticity and strength of native arteries. Steven has shown that the vessels interact favourably with artery cells, and that they are able to resist clot formation, which would otherwise cause blockages. You have published a number of papers this year, but I am very interested in your research on synthetic blood vessels. Can you tell us more about how your vessels are made? Dr. Wise: About 50% of the weight of large arteries is made up of a protein called elastin. Our laboratory at The Heart Research Institute is the only place in the world where synthetic elastin is produced, giving us a unique material from which to construct our vessels. Using a process called electrospinning we use a strong electric field (20,000 volts) to turn liquid synthetic elastin into fine elastic fibres. These in turn are woven into conduits using a custom built rotating mandril system. What makes synthetic elastin vessels potentially superior to commercially available graft materials? Dr. Wise: We have focused on improving the major failings of current synthetic grafts. First, by using human elastin as the building block we greatly enhance the biocompatibility of our vessels translating to better healing and a reduction in clot formation. Secondly, in contrast to the rigid, inelastic commercial grafts we have engineered our vessels to mechanically match the normal blood vessels and surrounding tissue and respond elastically to blood flow. It is hoped that these improvements will ultimately translate to clinical benefit. The development of an effective synthetic vascular graft is a major advance in cardiovascular medicine, which will help to meet a significant and critical unmet need. Ultimately this work will lead to development of novel grafts that allow more effective treatment of coronary artery disease.
Visit The Heart Research Institute The Heart Research Institute believes it is a very important aspect of our work to allow our wonderful supporters and community members the opportunity to see behind the scenes of our state-of-the-art research facility. Our Talk & Tour provides you access to the research being conducted at the Institute and educates visitors into leading a healthier and longer life. Meet and greet some of our scientists and ask questions about the latest research into the causes, detection and prevention of heart disease – Australia’s number one killer and an increasing problem worldwide. These tours are free of charge and are open to all but bookings are essential. You can come alone or in a group (maximum 40 people per tour). Contact Valerie Froome Tel: (02) 9241 4300 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How you can help? The Heart Research Institute would like to encourage you to consider supporting the search for answers by including us in your Will. A bequest to The Heart Research Institute is one way you can continue the fight against heart disease and benefit future generations. To receive information or our free booklet, which outlines how you can make a bequest, please contact The Heart Research Institute:
call: 1800 651 373, visit: www.hri.org.au or email: email@example.com When you make a donation to The Heart Research Institute, be assured your gift is used to directly support scientific research that will make a difference.
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Steve Liebmann announced as Ambassador for The Heart Research Institute Steve Liebmann joined The Heart Research Institute to raise awareness about the prevalence and severity of heart disease – Australia’s number one killer! Steve is one of Australia’s most respected journalists and television and radio broadcasters with a career spanning over four decades. During his award-winning career, Steve has interviewed presidents, prime ministers, royalty, the world’s leading entertainers and sporting stars. As one of Australia’s top journalists, he has garnered widespread respect for his fairness, impartiality and objectiveness. But like many people dedicated to his career, Steve’s health took a back seat. He had been a heavy smoker for a long time and noticed that walking up hills was somewhat difficult but never thought it was a big problem. Then in December 2004, Steve suffered a heart attack. Steve recalls that while he felt unwell in the lead-up to his heart attack, he had no idea how serious his condition was. Steve had stents inserted to stop his arteries from clogging and decided to change his life. Steve joins former Champion Iron Man, Guy Leech to help spread the word about the important work being undertaken at The Heart Research Institute. We are most grateful to Steve for accepting the role of Ambassador to help promote Australia’s number one killer, heart disease and our heartfelt thanks goes to Steve for this wonderful commitment.
The Last Post magazine - Autumn 2012 - Anzac Day Special