Researchers at Spain’s University of Valladolid, BIOFORGE Labs, the SFI Research Center and CÚRAM have created a hydrogel injectable that may prevent additional damage and assist in repairing heart muscles following a heart attack.
Heart disease, or myocardial infarction, is the most common cause of death owing to irreversible damage of cardiac tissue after a heart attack. As tissue regeneration is minimal, any damage to heart muscle can’t be self-repaired. Present-day treatments lack an efficacious way to improve heart muscle repair and prevent death after a heart attack.
The project’s lead, Professor Abhay Pandit, scientific director of CÚRAM, explained that the study involved the testing and development of a hydrogel that had been extracted from a biomaterial that occurs naturally in humans. The elastin-based hydrogel was developed by BIOFORGE-UVa on a quest for advanced hydrogels to be used in regenerative medicine.
He added that the hydrogel was designed to imitate the environment around the heart after tissue death and then customized to be able to boost regeneration of cardiac tissue while also protecting it from further damage.
In the first-ever preclinical study, researchers evaluated the hydrogel injection’s therapeutic effects on cardiac tissue, showing its effectiveness for heart muscle repair after a heart attack. This group of researchers, which was made up of researchers from Italy, Ireland, France, Sweden and Spain, was able to demonstrate that the hydrogel being injected into cardiac tissue following a heart attack resulted in less scarring of heart muscle and an improvement in blood vessel generation in the area. The researchers also observed an increase in the survival and preservation of cardiomyocytes, which are cells that allow the heart to pump in the area that had been affected.
Pandit noted that the project showed the effectiveness of a biomaterial system being able to cause a positive healing effect on heart muscle after a heart attack. He explained that the benefits attained by the well-timed hydrogel injection highlighted and supported the possible use of this treatment, with the next stage being to design a prototype for a hydrogel delivery system.
The study’s senior co-author and a cardiothoracic surgeon, Prof. Mark Da Costa, stated that the scar tissue that formed following a heart attack usually repaired itself in a negative way, which caused issues such as heart failure. He remarked that the hydrogel injection changed how the cardiac tissue healed following a heart attack event, adding that researchers would now focus on methods of delivering the injection to injury sites before moving on to a clinical trial. The researchers’ findings were reported in the “Science Translational Medicine” journal.
Meanwhile, many studies have linked exposure to chemical pesticides to an increased risk of developing heart disease, the effects of which the hydrogel injection could alleviate. To mitigate these adverse effects of chemical use in agriculture, MustGrow Biologics Corp. (CSE: MGRO) (OTCQX: MGROF) (FRA: 0C0) develops natural plant-protection solutions from the mustard plant in order to reduce the need for synthetic substances in the agricultural sector.
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