Repair a broken heart. That is the goal pursued by a team of bioengineers from Trinity College in Dublin (Ireland) with a patch prototype that performs the same vital functions as a heart. His ‘invention’ performs mechanical functions and mimics the electrical signaling properties that allow our hearts to pump blood rhythmically into the body. His study is published in «Advanced Functional Materials».
It is estimated that, in the European Union, one in six men and one in seven women will suffer a heart attack at some time in their lives. And in the world, heart disease kills more women and men, regardless of race, than any other pathology.
Until now, patches coated with heart cells can be surgically applied to restore heart tissue in patients who have had damaged tissue removed after a heart attack and also to repair congenital heart defects in infants and children. However, the goal is to make patches without cells that can restore the synchronous heartbeat of the heart cells, without affecting the movement of the heart muscle.
The goal is to make patches without cells that can restore the synchronous heartbeat of the heart cells, without affecting the movement of the heart muscle.
«Ours is one of the few studies that analyzes a traditional material and, through an effective design, allows us to imitate the mechanical movement dependent on the direction of the heart. We have used an innovative method called ‘electrostatic fusion’, ”explains Michael Monaghan, lead author of the article, said:
Designing replacement materials for cardiac tissue is a challenge, as it is an organ that moves and contracts constantly. The mechanical demands of the heart muscle (myocardium) cannot be met with polyester-based thermoplastic polymers, which are predominantly the approved options for biomedical applications.
However, the functionality of thermoplastic polymers could be exploited by their structural geometry. Based on this idea, bioengineers began to make a patch that could control the expansion of a material in multiple directions and adjust it using an engineering design approach.
The bioengineers began to make a patch that could control the expansion of a material in multiple directions
The patches were manufactured using fusion electrofusion, a technology from Spraybase, which is reproducible, accurate and scalable. The patches were also coated with electroconductive polymer polyproprol to provide electrical conductivity while maintaining cell compatibility.
And the results showed that the patch supported repeated stretching, which is a dominant concern for cardiac biomaterials, and showed good elasticity, to accurately mimic that key property of the heart muscle.
«Our electroconductive patches support electrical conduction between biological tissue in an ex vivo model. Therefore, these results represent a significant step towards the generation of a bioengineering patch capable of recapitulating aspects of cardiac tissue, that is, its mechanical movement and electrical signaling, ”concludes Dinorath Olvera, Trinity, first author of the article. .