There is often a shortage in organ donations, and hearts themselves do not contain many stem cells to regenerate once injured or diseased. Researchers Dr. Tal Dvir and his graduate student Michal Shevach at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biotechnology have developed a method to incorporate gold nanoparticles into scaffolds seeded with cardiac cells as a way to replace damaged heart tissue. In order to do so, their first challenge was to engineer cardiac tissue so that implanting it would not trigger an immune response. The second challenge was to allow this artificial “patch” to be conductive so that there would not be any signalling problems.
To overcome the first challenge, Dr. Dvir and his team decided to go with a new approach. Instead of taking a collagen scaffold from another animal such as a pig, they decided to harvest fatty tissue from the patients themselves. Once decellularized, the scaffold is then used as the 3-D matrix for cardiac cell seeding.
The second challenge was that the biomaterials in artificially harvested matrices are insulating and thus interrupt the electrical signals in the heart. Dr. Dvir’s group tested the integration of nanoparticles into the tissue to determine the conductivity of this hybrid material. The final product was a successful hybrid cardiac tissue patch that was not only nonimmunogenic, but also much more electrically conductive than scaffolds that were not modified with gold nanoparticles. Testing on animals has already yielded positive results, and the next steps include testing on larger animals and moving toward clinical trials.
Announcement:: A Heartbeat Away? Hybrid “Patch” Could Replace Transplants
Nano Letters paper: Gold Nanoparticle-Decellularized Matrix…