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Precision Medicine

Valve Mimics Body's Mechanics

Stephen Little, MD, designs a realistic mitral valve
Stephen Little mitral valve design
As medical director of the Houston Methodist Valve Clinic, Stephen Little knows the distinct challenges of replicating normal valve function.
Houston Methodist’s doctors never stop to rest on their history-making laurels, and Stephen Little, MD, is already looking ahead to the next innovation. The John S. Dunn Chair in Clinical Cardiovascular Research and Education and associate professor of clinical cardiology has designed a mitral valve better suited to the minimally-invasive replacement surgery required by hundreds of thousands of patients annually.
The specialized valve, named the MitraMimic™, closely replicates the function of the body's natural mitral valve.
As medical director of the Houston Methodist Valve Clinic, Little studies over 3,000 echocardiograms every year. He knows the distinct challenges posed by trying to replicate all the elements of normal valve function. "The currently available surgical valves don’t replicate the function of the mitral valve we’re born with,” said Little.
With 3D imaging and extensive data, Little collaborated with bioengineer Matt Jackson and Stephen Igo, director of the Entrepreneurial Institute at Houston Methodist, to co-invent the specialized valve they named the MitraMimic.™ Little has a patent-pending prototype and recently received funding from the Translational Research Initiative for further development. He now aims to find a start-up investor, prepare for FDA testing and begin long-term preclinical trials.
To improve outcomes for patients after surgery, we developed a new artificial valve to mimic the complex mechanical actions, and couple the valve function to the ventricular function. This innovation aims to improve the quality and efficiency of blood flow after surgical valve replacement.
Stephen H. Little, MD
John S. Dunn Chair in Clinical Cardiovascular Research and Education DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center Associate Professor of Clinical Cardiology Program Director, Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Department of Cardiology and Department of Cardiovascular Sciences Houston Methodist
By LaVonne Carlson, August 2019
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