Gel injection may change the way heart muscle heals after heart attack

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Researchers have developed an injectable gel that could help repair and prevent further damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack.

eart disease is currently a leading cause of death due to the irreversible damage caused to the heart muscle during a heart attack.

Current treatments lack an effective method to prevent death and subsequent cardiac tissue repair following a heart attack.

Now, researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, and BIOFORGE Lab, at the University of Valladolid in Spain, have developed an injectable hydrogel which is expected to prevent further damage.

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway and project lead, said the project involved the development and testing of an elastin-based hydrogel taken from a naturally occurring biomaterial in the human body.

“The hydrogel was developed to mimic the environment around the heart following an infarction and then customised to have the ability to protect and promote regeneration of the cardiac tissue,” Prof Pandit explained.

“This project demonstrates the efficacy of a unique biomaterial-only system able to induce a positive healing effect on cardiac tissue following a heart attack event.

“The functional benefits obtained by the timely injection of the hydrogel supports and highlights the potential use of this treatment in the clinic,” he said.

In the first-ever preclinical study of its kind, the international research team were able to show that if their hydrogel was injected into the heart muscle shortly after a heart attack, it resulted in an increase in the generation of new blood vessels in the area.

They were also able to observe the rise in the preservation and survival of cardiomyocytes, a type of cell that allows the heart to beat, in the affected area.

Professor Mark Da Costa, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway, said: “Scar tissue that forms after the heart attack often remodels negatively, causing future problems like heart failure.

“The timely injection of this hydrogel appears to change the way the heart muscle heals after a heart attack. There is a significant positive histological, biological and functional recovery of the injured heart muscle.”

Professor Da Costa added that they are working to deliver the injection to the sites of injury in different clinical settings and it will be followed with translation into a clinical trial.

Online Editors

Source: Irish News