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new material that repairs hearts, muscles and vocal cords and heals wounds


Combining knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology and engineering, scientists from McGill University in Canada have developed a biomaterial strong enough to repair the heart, muscles and vocal cords, representing a breakthrough in regenerative medicine , as published in the journal ‘Advanced Science’.

“People who recover from heart damage often face a long and complicated journey. Healing is challenging due to the constant movement that the tissues must support when the heart beats. The same is true of the vocal cords. Until now, it did not exist. no injectable material strong enough for this task, “explains Guangyu Bao, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University.

The team, led by Professor Luc Mongeau and Adjunct Professor Jianyu Li, developed a new injectable hydrogel for wound repair. Hydrogel is a type of biomaterial that offers space for cells to live and grow. Once injected into the body, the biomaterial forms a stable, porous structure that allows living cells to grow or pass through to repair injured organs.

“The results are promising and we hope that one day the new hydrogel will be used as an implant to restore the voice of people with damaged vocal cords, for example laryngeal cancer survivors,” says Guangyu Bao.

The scientists tested the durability of their hydrogel in a machine they developed to simulate the extreme biomechanics of human vocal cords. Vibrating at 120 times per second for more than 6 million cycles, the new biomaterial remained intact while other standard hydrogels fractured into pieces, unable to withstand the stress of the charge.

“We were very excited to see that it worked perfectly in our test. Before our work, no injectable hydrogel had high porosity and hardness at the same time. To solve this problem, we introduced a pore-forming polymer into our formula,” says Guangyu Bao.

The innovation also opens up new avenues for other applications, such as drug delivery, tissue engineering and creating model tissues for drug screening, the scientists say. The team is even studying the possibility of using hydrogel technology to create lungs with which to test COVID-19 drugs.

“Our work highlights the synergy between materials science, mechanical engineering and bioengineering to create new biomaterials with unprecedented performance. We are looking forward to bringing them to the clinic”, highlights Professor Jianyu Li, Chair of the Chair of Canadian Research in Biomaterials and Musculoskeletal Health.

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