A novel injectable hydrogel could heal any damage caused by heart attacks, say scientists.
The hydrogel would open a new line of treatment for heart attacks, with the US alone reporting 785,000 new cases every year, with no established treatment for repairing the resulting damage to cardiac tissue.
The hydrogel is made from cardiac connective tissue that is stripped of heart muscle cells through a cleansing process, freeze-dried and milled into powder form, and then liquefied into a fluid that can be easily injected into the heart, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports.
Once it hits body temperature, the liquid turns into a semi-solid, porous gel that encourages cells to repopulate areas of damaged cardiac tissue and to preserve heart function, says Karen Christman, professor of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, who headed the study.
The hydrogel forms a scaffold to repair the tissue and possibly provides biochemical signals that prevent further deterioration in the surrounding tissues, according to a California statement.
What is more, the researchers' experiments show that the gel also can be injected through a catheter, a method that is minimally invasive and does not require surgery or general anaesthesia.