One of the ways medical researchers are looking to offer heart attack sufferers a greater chance of full recovery is through cardiac patches. These medical devices are designed to help regenerate healthy tissue after the injury and restore the organ to proper function, and scientists at North Carolina State University have now developed an “off-the-shelf” version they say overcomes some of the dangers of other approaches.
We have seen quite a few experimental cardiac patches over the years. Each has their own unique features, but all designed to repair tissue that has been irreversibly damaged through a heart attack. Many approaches involve using living cells embedded in scaffolds, which when implanted take on the role of regular heart cells and mimic the effects of beating heart tissue.
But according to the North Carolina State University team, using living cellular material brings some dangers, including a heightened risk of tumor, irregular heart beat or the chance that it will trigger an immune response from the patient. The scientists believe they have come up with safe alternative.
“We have developed an artificial cardiac patch that can potentially solve the problems associated with using live cells, yet still deliver effective cell therapy to the site of injury,” says study author Ke Cheng.