Alain Carpenter (1933-)
Concept and development of valvular bioprosthesis, dynamic cardiomyoplasty and mitral and tricuspid valves reconstructive techniques
Alain Carpenter first used the Starr-Edwards valve at Hôpital Broussais (Paris) in 1964. One of his early patients was an artist. Unfortunately, a few weeks after his surgery, he was paralyzed—due to a brain aneurysm cause by a blood clot. Alain dedicated his life to finding a solution. He focused his early work on pig valves.
Alain Carpentier and Jean-Paul Binet performed the first successful replacement of a human valve with an animal valve in 1965. The initial results were promising but, due to inflammation, the mercury-treated valves began to deteriorate within two years.
Carpentier discovered that glutaraldehyde could be used to sterilize tissue and reduce its immunogenicity. It could also link collagen molecules to one another, making the tissue more durable. The first patient survived for 18 years with the same device!
Albert Starr, impressed by Carpentier’s inventions, introduced him to Edwards Lifesciences. Alain Carpentier worked with the Edwards' laboratory to develop a commercial product composed of glutaraldehyde-treated pig valves and, later, bovine pericardial tissue. The valves were held in place by a frame for easy insertion. Advances with tissue valves enabled patients to avoid blood thinners and enhanced durability and ease of use.
Alain Carpentier received the Lasker Award in 2007, along with Albert Starr.
From 2009 to 2012, Carpentier was vice-president and then president of the French Academy of Sciences.