Patching the Heart
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heart patch

One day, heart surgeons may be able to literally patch up your heart after a heart attack. Just grab an off the shelf cardiac patch made of muscle building cells, attach it to the injury and the heart will begin to heal itself.

This new artificial patch uses a scaffolding made from pig cardiac tissue where all the animal’s cells have been removed. They then embed onto the scaffold artificial cardiac cells called CSCs or cardiac stromal cells. These cells release chemical signals that encourage muscle cell growth instead of scar tissue. Scar tissue after a heart attack is what keeps a person from fully healing because scar tissue keeps the heart from pumping blood the way it used to.

This artificial CSC in the heart patch contains all the regenerative factors that actual CSCs produce. For years, scientists had tried using actual CSCs but the live cells are fragile, can grow out of control, are difficult to standardize and expensive when using a patient’s own cells. It’s also challenging to keep them at the damaged site when a beating heart can wash them away.

The new patch fixed that problem because it was able to keep the synthetic CSCs in place in both a rodent and a pig model. The animals showed a fifty percent improvement in heart function compared to no treatment. It also reduced heart scarring by thirty percent, could be kept frozen for at least a month, and won’t induce cancer since they aren’t live cells. Let’s hope it works in humans.

For more information…

An off-the-shelf artificial cardiac patch improves cardiac repair after myocardial infarction in rats and pigs
Cell therapy has been a promising strategy for cardiac repair after injury or infarction; however, low retention and engraftment of transplanted cells limit potential therapeutic efficacy...

American Heart Association: About Heart Attacks
A heart attack is a frightening experience. If you have experienced a heart attack, or are close with someone who has, you should know this: You are not alone. In fact, tens of thousands of people survive heart attacks and go on to lead productive, enjoyable lives...