Bioengineers at Trinity College Dublin have engineered artificial tissue patches that imitate the natural electrical conductivity of heart tissue while being structurally designed to withstand the movement of a beating heart. In addition to improving electrical signalling throughout the heart, the patches promote new cell growth and development to help heal damaged heart cells.
The heart depends on electrical signalling to beat consistently. After experiencing a heart attack, the heart muscle heals by forming scar tissue which does not always properly relay electrical signals throughout the heart and can cause irregular heartbeat and result in other heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). The patch can be applied surgically to help heal the damage caused by heart attacks or congenital heart defects.
The cardiac patch is synthesized from polyester-based thermoplastic polymers, a standard in biomedical applications. The thermoplastic polymers alone, however, cannot withstand the mechanical demands of the heart muscle. In order to address this issue, the patch was manufactured using a technique called melt electrowriting (MEW) which gives the patch a degree of flexibility and allows it to stretch and contract along with the heart. Spraybase®, a company that specializes in electrospray systems for micro and nano-particles and fibres, collaborated alongside the team in order to apply the technique.
In the paper published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, senior author and ussher assistant professor in biomedical engineering, Micheal Monaghan states:
“Despite some advances in the field, heart disease still places a huge burden on our healthcare systems and the life quality of patients worldwide. It affects all of us either directly or indirectly through family and friends. As a result, researchers are continuously looking to develop new treatments which can include stem cell treatments, biomaterial gel injections and assistive devices... This study currently reports the development of our method and design, but we are now looking forward to furthering the next generation of designs and materials with the eventual aim of applying this patch as a therapy for a heart attack. “
Scar tissue resulting from a heart attack, can build up and block electrical signals, which control the cardiac rhythm and may result in atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). A-Fib is a major public health concern in the United States, affecting an estimated 2.7 million Americans. The prevalence of A-Fib is projected to reach 5.6 to 12.1 million by the year 2050. A-Fib is the most common sustained arrhythmia seen in clinical practice and accounts for approximately one-third of hospitalizations for cardiac dysrhythmias. The U.S. cardiac rhythm management market, including devices and developments and treatments for A-Fib, is expected to increase at a CAGR of 4.1% to exceed $11.3 billion by 2025.
To read more on the cardiac management market, including interviews, procedural volumes, and forecasts, refer to iData Research’s report page on Cardiovascular Markets or request a free sample of our latest report Cardiac Rhythm Management Market Analysis, Size, Trends | Global | 2019-2025 | MedSuite.