At Fraunhofer IGB, Hinderer is working in the Cell and Tissue Engineering Department, her special research field is the development of new biomaterials. One of her current projects here is to develop a novel heart valve replacement.
Artificial heart valve from nature’s blueprint
The unique feature about Hinderer’s heart valve replacement is the electro-spun hybrid material created from polymers and natural proteins that simulate the properties of natural valve leaflets. She developed this hybrid material during her PhD thesis at the Institute of Interfacial Engineering and Plasma Technology IGVP at the University of Stuttgart, where she was awarded the prestigious German Students Award from the Körber Foundation in 2015. Since her graduation, she has continued her work in this field.
„In order to develop a suitable valve replacement material that maintains the cells in the most physiologically advantageous environment possible, I looked to nature’s blueprint“, says Hinderer. On the basis of structural, mechanical and biochemical characteristics of the extracellular matrix of native heart valves, the chemist succeeded in producing a material which is particularly suitable as a carrier substrate for human cells. She generated this scaffold via electrospinning, a method to produce thin fibers from polymers.The electrospun scaffold was then subsequently coated with specific proteins to attract circulating cells.
The mechanical stable and elastic scaffold can be sterilized and is biocompatible – making it perfectly suitable for medical applications. The future goal is to develop a cell-free medical device that binds human cells after implantation into the patient, which then allows natural remodeling and growth of the valve without an immune reaction. For this, Hinderer is working on protein modifications to attract circulating stem cells to her scaffolds so they will bind, infiltrate and remodel her scaffolds. Thus the artificial heart valve would have the potential to grow with the body – which could especially spare children surgery, because they require the valves be regularly replaced as a child grows.
“Over the years, we’ve had success in recognizing young innovators whose will change how the world thinks about what technology can do” says editor David Rotman. “Past honorees include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook; and Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple. We’re proud of our selections and the variety of achievements they celebrate, and we’re proud to add Svenja Hinderer to this prestigious list.”
This year’s honorees will be featured online at www.technologyreview.com starting today, and in the September/October print magazine, which hits newsstands worldwide on August 29. They will appear in person at the upcoming EmTech MIT conference November 6–9 in Cambridge, Massachusetts (www.EmTechMIT.com).
About MIT Technology Review
Founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1899, MIT Technology Review is a digitally oriented independent media company whose analysis, features, reviews, interviews, and live events explain the commercial, social, and political impact of new technologies. MIT Technology Review readers are curious technology enthusiasts—a global audience of business and thought leaders, innovators and early adopters, entrepreneurs and investors. Every day, we provide an authoritative filter for the flood of information about technology. We are the first to report on a broad range of new technologies, informing our audiences about how important breakthroughs will impact their careers and their lives.
About Fraunhofer IGB
The Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB develops and optimizes processes, products and technologies in the fields of health, chemistry and process industry, as well as environment and energy. The institute combines the highest scientific standards with professional know-how in its competence areas – always with a view to economic efficiency and sustainability. Strengths are offering complete solutions from the laboratory to the pilot scale. Fraunhofer IGB is one of 69 institutes and independent research units of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe’s leading organization for applied research.