The number of patients requiring replacement heart valves due to valvular heart disease is forecast to rise from 290,000 in 2003 to 850,000 in 2050. Currently, treatment of these patients is dominated by either surgically implanted mechanical or bioprosthetic valves. Unfortunately, none of these solutions are optimal, they simply replace native valvular disease with “prosthetic valvular disease”—mechanical valves require lifelong anticoagulation, and bioprostheses have a limited durability of approximately 15 yr. As such, since the 1950s, researchers have sought solutions which may overcome these drawbacks.

Flexible leaflet polymeric prosthetic heart valves (PHVs) have been proposed as a potential solution—able to provide good long-term durability and function without the need for anticoagulation, however, no valve has been clinically successful, and in the past 40 years of development no valve has reached clinical trials [1]. As such, the process by which we design polymeric valves...

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