Researchers are developing new tissue patches for the heart
It still seems a futuristic dream, but researchers are in the process of developing a tissue patch for patients who have had a heart attack. The damaged heart is supposed to be brought up to speed again. However, clinical use will only be possible in a few years.
First development phase At the annual conference of the German Society of Cardiologists in Mannheim, scientists from the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) informed that they were working on a tissue patch for the heart that should support the heart muscle after an infarction. The head of cardiology at the University Medical Center Göttingen, Gerd Hasenfuß, said that the tissue could be sewn or glued to the damaged heart. Research is still at an early stage and it will only take a few years to test humans. As in other areas of heart attack therapy, research and development is often lengthy.
As Hasenfuß further explained, the researchers have already succeeded in designing special cell assemblies. With these, doctors could use a "living patch" in the future to bridge destroyed arial lines of the heart muscle. This could improve cardiac output. But it was still "unknown how such a patch would actually behave".
Use only in the next decade Hasenfuß, who is also on the board of the DZHK, estimates that the process can be used in ten years at the earliest if all tests are successful. Rodents are still being tested. Since myocardial cells die in an infarction, researchers worldwide have been looking for ways to let new cells develop in the heart for years. First, attempts were made to introduce bone marrow stem cells into the heart so that they become cardiac cells there and promote the regeneration of the heart, but all without great success. "It's off the table," says Hasenfuß. Positive effects were only observed for a short time. That is why other methods are now being examined by the scientists. In particular, so-called reprogrammed cells (iPS cells) are now in the spotlight. These are, for example, "Blood or skin cells that are brought into the adaptable state of a stem cell, which then become cardiac muscle cells in the laboratory, which mutate to form a tissue.
First results It has already been possible to produce such cell clusters, explained Hasenfuß. One day, the goal is to apply it as a kind of living plaster to the destroyed part of the heart muscle to support the heart's pumping work. There are still uncertainties such as that the behavior of the cells in the dressing is not yet known, said Hasenfuß.
DZHK Congress With Mannheim, the DZHK has seven locations nationwide. Until Saturday, around 7,500 experts can gather information on the latest findings in cardiac medicine at the congress there. (ad)
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Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixelio.de