A 3D-bioprinted patch can facilitate the healing of the scarred tissues of the heart after a heart attack. Biomedical engineering researchers from the University of Minnesota discovered this revolutionary cell patch.
As per American Heart Association reports, the number one cause for death in the United States is heart disease. At the time of a heart attack, blood flow to the heart muscle will be lost, which results to the death of cells. The human body cannot replace those damaged heart muscle cells; hence scars occur in that area of the heart. As a result, there is a risk for compromised heart function and heart failure in the future.
Laser based 3D-bioprinting techniques are used by the researchers to incorporate stem cells collected from adult human heart cells on a matrix that has started to grow and beat synchronously in a dish in the laboratory.
3D-Bioprinted Patch and Its Efficiency
Researchers placed the cell patch on a mouse after an induced heart attack and observed a considerable increase in functional ability after just four weeks. As the patch was developed from the structural proteins and the cells of the heart, it turned to be a part of the heart and was absorbed in to the body and no additional surgeries were required.
Brenda Ogle, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota said that This discovery is an important step towards treating the number one cause of death in the United States. We could scale up this way of repairing the heart in larger animals and even in humans within the coming years.
Ogle explained that this research is different from earlier research done in that the patch is developed by means of digital, 3D scan of the structural proteins of the native heart tissue cells. The digital model is developed into a physical structure by 3D-bioprinting with native proteins of the heart tissue, integrated with cardiac cell types taken from cell types. By means of this 3D-bioprinting we can accomplish one micron level resolution required to mimic native heart tissue structures.
We were surprise to see how well it worked in spite of the complexity of the heart. We were motivated to observe that cells had arranged in the scaffold and have demonstrated a continuous wave of electrical signal that travelled all over the patch, Ogle mentioned.
The research team is already starting the further steps to model a bigger patch that they would test on the heart of a pig, which is similar to that of a human heart in size.
Written by Lax Mariappan MSc