Scientists at the University of Toronto have developed a bandage-like patch that can be delivered into the heart through a needle, in combination with stem cells allowing for minimally invasive cardiac tissue repair, currently an impossible task.
After a massive heart attack, myocardial tissue damage can significantly reduce the cardiac output. One very promising treatment option is to deliver regenerative cells to the damaged tissue to restore its function. Various research teams have investigated using patches to hold the cells in place on the heart surface.
However, implanting patches on the heart surface can be tricky, as open-heart surgery is risky for many patients after a heart attack. An alternative for doctors is to deliver materials or cells using injections from specialized catheters. This means that the material must pass through a narrow needle without getting damaged. For a postage stamp-sized patch covered in cells, this is quite a challenge.
The Toronto team developed a biodegradable polymer patch that cardiac cells will happily grow on. Their patch has a shape-memory and will spring back to its original shape once it passes through a needle, leaving the cells undamaged.
“When we saw that the lab-grown cardiac tissue was functional and not affected by the injection process, that was very exciting,” says Miles Montgomery, a researcher involved in the study. “Heart cells are extremely sensitive, so if we can do it with them, we can likely do it with other tissues as well.”
The team showed that the patch can improve heart function after a heart attack in rat hearts. The hearts pumped more blood after the team injected the patch, indicating restoration of the heart.
Here’s an up-close look at the patch:
Study in Nature Materials: Flexible shape-memory scaffold for minimally invasive delivery of functional tissues…