Heart attacks result in dead myocardial tissue that forms a scar, and so patients are left with a chronically weakened heart. Replacement heart cells or stems cells that can become desired cardiac cells can be grown in the lab and injected into the dead tissue, but it’s a major challenge to keep them in place long enough for them to be established as a bonafide part of the heart. Now researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany have reported on a new way of using magnets to lure injected cells to gather on or near the heart, giving cells a better chance to survive.
The researchers attached magnetic nanoparticles to embryonic cardiomyocytes and embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes that were designed to be injected into post infarct mice. A magnet was then placed within millimeters of the heart and the cells delivered into the damaged tissue. The same was done with the same kinds of cells, but without the attached nanoparticles in order to provide a control group. All the injected cells were made to be fluorescent, so as to be able to be followed to their destiny following the injections.
When the researchers compared the groups of mice, they discovered that the mice treated with cells connected to magnetic nanoparticles had significantly more of the introduced cells attach themselves to the heart. Additionally, more of these cells managed to survive and proliferate compared to the unattached cells.
The technology is extremely promising and may provide the first true treatment option for heart attacks that actually restores dead cells with live ones and brings the organ back to a similar state in which it was before.
Study abstract in journal Biomaterials: Improved heart repair upon myocardial infarction: Combination of magnetic nanoparticles and tailored magnets strongly increases engraftment of myocytes…