Injectable gel could repair tissue damaged by heart attack

February 22, 2012 By Catherine Hockmuth, University of California - San Diego
Tissue spins in a beaker at the end of the cleansing process that removes all of the cells. The process retains the tissue’s structural proteins, a key component of the hydrogel. Credit: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

(Medical Xpress) -- University of California, San Diego researchers have developed a new injectable hydrogel that could be an effective and safe treatment for tissue damage caused by heart attacks.

The study by Karen Christman and colleagues appears in the Feb. 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Christman is a professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and has co-founded a company, Ventrix, Inc., to bring the gel to clinical trials within the next year.

Therapies like the would be a welcome development, Christman explained, since there are an estimated 785,000 attack cases in the United States each year, with no established treatment for repairing the resulting damage to cardiac tissue.

The hydrogel is made from cardiac connective tissue that is stripped of through a cleansing process, freeze-dried and milled into powder form, and then liquefied into a fluid that can be easily injected into the heart. Once it hits body temperature, the liquid turns into a semi-solid, porous gel that encourages cells to repopulate areas of damaged and to preserve , according to Christman. The hydrogel forms a to repair the tissue and possibly provides that prevent further deterioration in the surrounding tissues.

Tissue is liquefied into a fluid that can be easily injected into the heart. Once it hits body temperature, the liquid turns into a semi-solid, porous gel that forms a scaffold to encourage cells to repopulate areas of the heart damaged by heart attack. Credit: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

“It helps to promote a positive remodeling-type response, not a pro-inflammatory one in the damaged heart,” Christman said.

What’s more, the researchers’ experiments show that the gel also can be injected through a catheter, a method that is minimally invasive and does not require surgery or general anesthesia.

New, unpublished work by her research team suggests that the gel can improve heart function in pigs with cardiac damage, which brings this potential therapy one step closer to humans, said Christman.

There are few injectable cardiac therapies in development designed to be used in large animals such as pigs, which have a heart that is similar in size and anatomy to the human heart, Christman explained. “Most of the materials that people have looked at have been tested in rats or mice, and they are injectable via a needle and syringe. However, almost all of them are not compatible with catheter delivery and would gel too quickly, clogging the catheter during the procedure.

In experiments with rats, the gel was not rejected by the body and did not trigger arrhythmic heart beating, providing some assurance that the gel will be similarly safe for humans, the researchers note.

Christman has an equity interest in Ventrix, Inc., a company that may potentially benefit from the research results, and also serves on the company’s Scientific Advisory Board.  The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of California, San Diego in accordance with its conflict of interest policies. The study’s co-authors include Jennifer Singelyn, Priya Sundaramurthy, Todd Johnson, Pamela Schup-Magoffin, Diane Hu, Denver Faulk, Jean Wang, and Kristine M. Mayle in the Department of ; Kendra Bartels, Anthony N. DeMaria, and Nabil Dib of the UC San Diego  School of Medicine; and Michael Salvatore and Adam M. Kinsey of Ventrix, Inc. The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award Program (part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research), the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Explore further: Genetically engineered cardiac stem cells repaired damaged mouse heart

Related Stories

Genetically engineered cardiac stem cells repaired damaged mouse heart

July 19, 2011
Genetically engineered human cardiac stem cells helped repair damaged heart tissue and improved function after a heart attack, in a new animal study.

Helping the heart help itself: Research points to new use for stem cells

April 8, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- Human trials of stem cell therapy for post-heart attack patients have raised as many questions as they have answered -- because while the patients have tended to show some improvement in heart function, the ...

Stem cells from cord blood could help repair damaged heart muscle

October 13, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- New research has found that stem cells derived from human cord blood could be an effective alternative in repairing heart attacks.

Recommended for you

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Feb 22, 2012
Damn...the headline is misleading. I first misread it as:
"Injectable gel could repair tissue damaged by [causing a] heart attack"
Sean_W
not rated yet Feb 22, 2012
antialias_physorg said:
Damn...the headline is misleading. I first misread it as:
"Injectable gel could repair tissue damaged by [causing a] heart attack"


That's when it's time to get a second opinion.

I didn't see any mention of scare tissue or whether it is removed as the new cells move in.

Callum_M
not rated yet Feb 22, 2012

That's when it's time to get a second opinion.

I didn't see any mention of scare tissue or whether it is removed as the new cells move in.



I think any applications would be geared towards acute care.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.