On 17th April 2018, a research team from the GUMED Cardiac and Vascular Surgery Department led by Piotr Siondalski, MD, PhD performed an experimental implantation of the original heart valve prosthesis made of bacterial nanocellulose (BNC) in three sheep. The surgeries were carried out in the Laboratory of Experimental Medicine at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

  
Bionanocellulose prosthesis - ready for implantation.

Professor Bart Meuris participated in the project on the part of the CU of Leuven. The team also included Magdalena Kołaczkowska, M.D., Ph.D. - cardiac surgeon, and Maciej Kowalik, MD, PhD - anaesthesiologist. The operations were successful and initiated a six-month observation period, the aim of which was to check the function of the implanted heart valves and examine any degenerative changes within the BNC bioimplant.

 
Bionanocellulose prosthesis - good function after implantation into the sheep circulatory system

The cooperation between GUMED and the CU of Leuven was established in 2016 as part of the project entitled "Preclinical studies on the applicability of the original Polish bionanocellulose (BNC) in regenerative medicine in the aspect of bioimplants in cardiac surgery and vascular surgery", with the acronym "Kardio-BNC". The aim of the project is to demonstrate in preclinical studies the usefulness of bacterial nanocellulose as a bioimplant in cardiac surgery and vascular surgery. The project has been implemented since 2014 by GUMED, Ship Design and Research Centre (CTO), and Bovil - Biotech company, producer of the original Polish BNC, Gdańsk University of Technology – Chemical and Mechanical Departments, University of Gdańsk - Faculty of Biology, and the Professor Religa Foundation for Cardiac Surgery Development.

To date, BNC with physical and biological properties that enable its use as a vascular and valvular prosthesis has been developed and produced. Ex vivo examinations have been performed and dozens of experimental in vivo implantations of various bioimplants have been carried out in pigs.

The Laboratory of Experimental Medicine of the CU of Leuven is a world-renowned center specializing in preclinical studies on various bioimplants used in cardiac surgery. The cooperation with Professor Bart Meuris brings us closer to the stage of clinical research on a new valve made of the Polish BNC and developed by cardiac surgeons and bioengineers from Gdańsk.

 
The patient one day after heart valve surgery.