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Mending Broken Hearts Using 'Spray-Patch'

by Rukmani Krishna on August 4, 2012 at 11:26 PM
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 Mending Broken Hearts Using 'Spray-Patch'

A 10,000 volt 3D electric sprayer was developed by researchers which fires out a stream of heart cells and could be the latest tool in mending broken hearts.

It can create thin sheets of beating cells that researchers hope they can use to patch-up pieces of damaged heart.

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Heart attacks may no longer be a death sentence, but as more people survive them it means more are living with a damaged heart.

When a bit of heart muscle dies it is replaced by tough scars, just as it does after you cut your leg. But scar tissue does not beat, so it can leave the heart struggling to pump blood.
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In some cases it can make even the simplest of tasks as exhausting as running a marathon.

It is for this reason that British Heart Foundation researchers are trying to develop the patches.

The thin sheets of heart cells could be layered onto the heart to help it beat or maybe even sprayed directly onto scar tissue inside the heart.

In a windowless laboratory in the heart of London a mechanical engineer, Dr Suwan Jayasinghe, has assembled the pieces of the bio-electric sprayer.

First a syringe is filled with heart cells. In the future it is thought these cells could be taken from a patient's heart and grown or a patient's stem cells could be converted into heart cells.

These are then passed through a needle.

However, unlike a graffiti artist's spray can, this is not enough to get the thin accurate spray of cells needed to build the heart tissue, instead 10,000 volts going through the needle create an electric field to control the cells.

"You get the formation of a fine jet which then breaks up into a myriad of droplets and those droplets are what form the sheet," the BBC quoted Dr Jayasinghe as saying.

"The beautiful thing is that we can add various other cell types into this cell suspension and create three dimensional cardiac tissues that are fully functional," he added.

Under a microscope it is then possible to see the cells beating in the patch.

Source: ANI
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