Researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have experimented with the addition of gold nanowires to engineered heart tissue to evaluate the electrical conduction and organization of myocardial cells in engineered heart patches. They found better conduction in cardiac patches with gold wires than cardiac tissues without. The researchers published their finding in Nature Nanotechnology.
Engineered cardiac patches are meant for treating damaged heart tissue after a heart attack. Normally they are produced using scaffolds made of biomaterials which help cells organize into functioning tissues, but unfortunately the biomaterials have poor electrical conductivity. By integrating gold nanowires into scaffolds made of alginate, the researchers improved electrical conduction between the heart muscle cells.
The findings hold promise to improve current cardiac patches, which have already been approved for Phase II clinical trials, with stronger contractile properties. The authors also think that this technology can be applied in any other electrically excitable tissue, like nervous tissue. The team plans to move the experiment from cell cultures to live animal models, to get a better understanding of the technology.
MIT press release: A heart of gold
Article in Nature Nanotechnology: Nanowired three-dimensional cardiac patches