Gold is your heart's best friend! Scientists in Israel have integrated cardiac cells with gold nanofibers to form functional engineered tissues.
Dr. Tal Dvir and his PhD student Michal Shevach of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, together with their colleagues were the people behind this endeavour.
The team's goal is to optimize electrical signalling between cells.
Dvir said that gold has been found to increase the connectivity of biomaterials.
He explained that with the addition of the gold particles, cardiac tissues contract much faster and stronger as a whole, he reported, making them more viable for transplants.
Dvir said that on the surface, heart cells have proteins responsible for transferring electrical signals, however, the process of tissue engineering leads to the loss of these proteins.
He asserted that while the cells will start to produce them again naturally they take time to develop - time which a patient may not have.
Dvir said that gold nanofibers can fill the role of electrical connectors until the cells are able to produce their own connectors once more.
New tissues are created by placing cells taken from patients or animals onto a three-dimensional scaffolding made of biomaterials - any matter or surface that interacts with biological systems - which organize the cells into the proper formation as they grow.
Dvir and his team used various chemical and physical processes to integrate gold nanoparticles into their scaffolds. The cells then interacted with each other through these gold nanoparticles.
The research has been published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.