AHA Grants Innovation Research Award to UCI Heart Valve Engineer

Arash KheradvarMarch 9, 2016 - UC Irvine biomedical engineer Arash Kheradvar has received an Innovative Research Grant from the American Heart Association (AHA). The grant will support his efforts to improve outcomes in heart valve replacement for patients with severe aortic valve stenosis -- a narrowing of the valve, which limits blood flow from the heart to the body.

Kheradvar, associate professor of biomedical engineering, will use the two-year $150,000 grant to develop and test an ultrasound-guided delivery system for transcatheter heart valve replacement (TAVR). TAVR is a fairly new, less invasive treatment option for patients who cannot tolerate open heart surgery. Recently approved in the U.S., the procedure allows the replacement valve to be inserted in a thin flexible tube and delivered to the heart through the femoral artery in the groin.

Currently, the procedure can fail due to the improper placement. Kheradvar’s specialized delivery system will supplement the current fluoroscopic imaging technique with a catheter equipped with intravascular ultrasound capability, which could give the clinician a better view for more accurate positioning of a valve implant.

“This 3-D technique will give the clinician eyes on the end of the catheter so they can see the calcifications on the heart valves, giving them more information for better valve placement,” explained Kheradvar.

In this project, Kheradvar is working with biomedical engineer Zhongping Chen, who has developed dual modality imaging devices; Pranav Patel, UCI’s chief of cardiology; and Jeffrey Millikan, UCI’s chief of cardiothoracic surgery. This grant will allow the researchers to test their system in large animals.

The AHA Innovative Research Grants support high-risk, high-reward projects that could ultimately lead to critical discoveries or major advancements that accelerate the field of cardiovascular and stroke research.