U of M granted $3.7 million for research to reduce surgeries for pediatric heart patients

(ABC 6 News) – The University of Minnesota Twin Cities has received a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense for a human clinical trial that would prevent the need for repeated surgeries in children with congenital heart defects.

According to the Univerisity, researchers will test bioengineered blood vessels that grow with the patient.

The clinical trial would help to improve treatment for children who were born with heart defects because patients often outgrow vessel grafts, the current method, meaning they require a series of surgeries as they grow.

“This grant is a major step forward and will allow us to do everything that’s necessary to get to day one of a first clinical trial where we would implant one of our lab-created blood vessels into an infant with a heart defect,” said Robert Tranquillo, a McKnight University Professor.

Preliminary studies must be completed before human trials can begin. The university says Tranquillo and research associate Zeeshan Syedain will partner with the U of M medical school to test the blood vessels in lambs.

Tranquillo says there is potential to grow the research into related conditions, like heart valve defects, if the human trials are successful.