Mariam Noor, a PhD student of engineering at Denmark’s Aarhus University, has been credited with creating an inspired device that may be able to cure leaking human heart valves. The creative potential cure for aortic regurgitation (also known as aortic insufficiency) was invented by Noor, who is based at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Aarhus University and the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery at Aarhus University Hospital. The student spent the past three years designing an elastic ring which is able to prevent blood from returning to the heart in a retrograde fashion. At present, animal studies have yielded promising results, and further trials are in the pipeline. 
Aortic insufficiency or aortic regurgitation is a form of valvular heart condition in which there is a retrograde flow of blood back into the left ventricle of the heart, as a result of the aortic valve being unable to close. This ultimately leads to a state of incomplete diastole. Some patients are born with the condition, whereas others develop the disease during their lifetime. Such a condition forces the heart to work at a more strenuous pace, causing shortness of breath and a sensation of fatigue. In most cases, there is a gradual onset of symptoms, which develop sequentially over a period of years. In addition to shortness of breath and fatigue, some patients are also known to suffer from other symptoms, such as light-headedness, angina, and an irregular pulse or arrhythmia. The opposite medical condition to regurgitation is stenosis, where the aortic valve does not open fully during the heart’s systole phase.   
Impressively, Noor’s device is composed of an elastic material that has the ability to mould itself to tissue. For a number of years, cardiologists have often used rigid rings in order to stabilise the function of underperforming heart valves. However, the inflexible structure of such devices invariably limits their utility. As a result, Noor’s new device is said to be a game-changer in the world of heart valve treatment.
In an article published on the Aarhus University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering news website, Noor shared the following findings with Kim Harel, chief consultant at the Nat-Tech Administrative Centre:
“A prosthetic heart valve is an effective form of treatment, but it’s also a relatively complicated surgical procedure that brings with it a number of risks and complications in the long term. Now we have found a solution that can make it easier to treat patients.” 
In highlighting the benefits of a reduction in potentially higher risk surgery such as that of installing a prosthetic valve, Noor further elaborates on her design and reasoning as follows:
“Instead of replacing the defective valve, my treatment concept is to enclose it in the main artery so it prevents blood from returning to the heart. I’ve developed a new type of ring that tightens around the aortic root to prevent this.
“The surgical procedure is significantly less invasive, and with the help of diagnostic imaging and 3D printing, we can adjust the ring’s rigidity and strength to the individual patient’s anatomy. This gives us some fantastic options, and the technology has been promising during animal trials.” 
Once it has received requisite clinical regulatory approvals, it is envisaged that Noor’s invention will be subject to further extensive testing prior to being rolled out in the field. As is commonly understood, the anatomy, genetics, and physiology of pigs and humans are similar in a number of ways; it is therefore promising that test results on pigs have thus far yielded positive results. 
The invention of the elastic ring is also a testament to Noor’s solid academic background in the areas of engineering, mathematics, and physics. Indeed, as Noor says in the AU Engineering news piece:
“I look at surgical issues through the lens of an engineer, because there’s a lot of physics and mathematics in our cardiovascular system. My approach has been to understand how the aorta works and then transfer this knowledge to design a ring that can recreate normal anatomical conditions in patients.
“We can simulate the action of the heart in a very precise environment that closely resembles the human body. This means we can closely study what happens with the ring in the frequency area of every, single heartbeat. It’s been interesting, and we have obtained an incredibly detailed knowledge base to continue working with.
“We looked at the geometric pattern of the main artery in a pig with a ring and in a pig without it, and we could see that we can actually preserve the natural dynamics. These results look really promising.” 
Shaheer is a regular contributor for Islam21c. He maintains a strong interest in current affairs, as well as the changing global conditions of Muslim populations. Prior to joining Islam21c, he developed a number of years’ experience in the health and social care sector and has previously volunteered at the Muslim Youth Helpline.