Tag Archives: cardiac tissue regeneration

Heart Patch

Bionic Heart Patch Replaces Need for Cardiac Transplants for Patients with Irreparable Heart Damage

Scientists at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have created a bionic heart patch by melding human tissue and pliant electronics held together using latest nanotechnology to be used as a high-tech Band-Aid placed over irreparably damaged cardiac tissue, either through myocardial infarction (heart attack) or heart disease. The inventors claim it’s even better than regular cardiac tissue as the heart patch can remotely monitor heart rate, regularity of electrical impulses, and release medication as needed. Due to the supple nature of the materials, the patch can expand and contract, just like a normal heart, and then some.

Utilizing advanced nanotech provided by TAU’s Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Lab, the scientists have developed a fully operational proxy, or replacement, tissue to replace completely traumatized tissue. Only, it’s intertwined with flexible electrical cords and embedded with sensors so that when a patient feels unwell while relaxing at home, the patient’s physician can remotely login to a computer and assess the situation in real time and adjust the patient’s electrical firing or authorize the release of medications stored in the heart patch’s electroactive polymer to help stabilize the patient—without the patient having to move a muscle.

In the United States, 25 percent of Americans are on the waiting list for a heart transplant. While improvements in technology have procured artificial hearts and veritable organs are being grown in petri dishes, it will still be several years before they appear on the market. With the heart patch, the need for transplants can be eliminated as the broken version—though not entirely mended—can be fully functional.

The scientists are looking to extend their application of the heart patch to the brain for irreversible neurological disorders. In the fashion of true artificial intelligence, they hope to upgrade the electronic sensors within the patch so that any irregularities, e.g. heart rate, high levels of inflammatory mediators detected, can be automatically rectified without the prompting of a physician or a technician.

Can ‘Broken Hearts’ Be Mended After a Heart Attack?

After a myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, the heart is never the same again. Dead cardiac tissue from insufficient oxygen perfusion is dissolved by the body and replaced by scar tissue that renders the heart less flexible. Thus, the heart muscles pump blood to the rest of the body less efficiently than its pre-MI state.

Scientists have come up with a number of ways to replace cardiac scar tissue by way of a ‘Band-Aid’ that helps regrow heart tissue. One method is the creation of MeTro, a gel made by tropoelastin, which is a protein that gives tissue its elasticity. The gel was “seeded” with cardiac muscle cells procured from the patient. The hope is that once placed onto the weakened area of the heart, the cells on the MeTro will merge with the patient’s cells via cell-to-cell communication mechanisms until the gel is completely replaced.

Another approach is the use of a carbon nanofiber patch with a 3D scaffold-like structure that can expand and contract like the heart. The fibers are proficient electricity conductors and can transmit electrons, or electrical impulses, that the heart requires to beat steadily. The combined elastic nature of the structure and its ability to conduct electrons make the nanofiber patch a good breeding ground for cardiac muscle cells, and thus excellent fodder for regeneration.

The latest discovery to heal the heart came from the help of lab rats. Scientists noted that the extracellular matrix (ECM) fibers in hearts of rats were spiral-shaped. The scaffold structures serve as the ECM in which to grow heart cells and were usually grown in labs as straight fibers. The fibers were spun using electrospinning techniques so they resembled telephone handset cords, and functioned like natural cardiac tissue compared to the straight fibers.

Once researchers refine the various artificial growing media for cardiac tissue regeneration and find a way to obtain large enough samples to use as seeds of regeneration, the path to mending broken hearts seems to be highly probable.