Doctoral students Sharon Fleischer and Ron Feiner - under the supervision of Dr. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology - have fabricated fibers shaped like springs that allow engineered cardiac tissue to pump more like the real thing.
Dvir said that until now, when scientists have tried to engineer cardiac tissue, they've used straight fibers to support the contracting cells.
He said that but these fibers prevent the contraction of the engineered tissue and what they did was mimic the spring-like fibers that promote contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle.
Dvir asserted that they found that by growing tissues on these fibers, they got more functional tissues.
The researchers identified spiral-shaped collagen fibers in the extracellular matrix of rat hearts and seeing the potential for an advance, they set out to recreate them for the first time.
After fabricating the spring-like fibers using advanced techniques, they subjected them to a variety of tests.
As the researchers predicted, the spring-like fibers showed better mechanical properties than straight fibers, with especially improved elasticity.
And compared to tissue engineered with straight fibers, the tissue engineered with spring-like fibers contracted with greater force and less mechanical resistance.
They study has been published in the journal Biomaterials in August.