New Hydrogel Patch developed to reduce heart attack damage

Soochow, China, Fudan University and Brown University, US, have collaborated to design and create a hydrogel patch which can reduce the amount of damage caused from the aftermath of a heart attack and publishing it in Nature Biomedical Engineering. Created used food starch, the new hydrogel patch is adhesive, meaning that is can be placed and stick directly on to the heart. 

It is said to work by preventing the heart from remodelling, which can occur as the result of a heart attack, and also reduces the function of the heart’s main pumping chamber. The international team tried to create a patch which has the perfect thickness and stiffness to create a supportive cure, which isn’t too restrictive. 

“Part of the reason that it’s hard for the heart to recover after a heart attack is that it has to keep pumping,” said Huajian Gao, a professor of engineering at Brown and a co-author on the paper. “The idea here is to provide mechanical support for damaged tissue, which hopefully gives it a chance to heal.”

“If the material is too hard or stiff, then you could confine the movement of the heart so that it can’t expand to the volume it needs to,” he said. “But if the material is too soft, then it won’t provide enough support. So we needed some mechanical principles to guide us.”  

In the early stages of development, the team used computer models to find an ideal level of support. Once reaching their conclusion, they then turned to creating the hydrogel patch with a material which had optimal properties. Starch was chosen, allowing the patch to become viscoelastic, so it can combine both liquid and solid properties to provide the support it needs to for the heart. Costing less than one single penny per patch created, this hydrogel patch is extremely cheap to create and completely non-toxic to the patient. 

So far, the new patch has only been tested on rats. “It remains to be seen if it will work in humans, but it’s very promising,” Gao said. “We don’t see any reason right now that it wouldn’t work.”

Photo Credit: The Engineer
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April 18, 2019



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