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A close up of a heart valve created in a lab.

The valve-making procedure, which could spare children born with heart defects the need to undergo repeated surgeries, is licensed to UMN startup Vascudyne.

"This is a huge step forward in pediatric heart research," said senior researcher Robert Tranquillo, a professor of biomedical and chemical engineering and materials science. "This is the first demonstration that a valve implanted into a large animal model, in our case a lamb, can grow with the animal into adulthood."

Right now, the only accepted options for kids with heart defects are valves made from chemically treated animal tissues. But these don't grow with the child and often become dysfunctional because of calcium buildup, requiring repeated replacement.

Read the full story in U.S. News & World Report.