Bioengineers Innovate Ways to Mend a Broken Heart

Heart disease kills more women and men worldwide than any other disease, with studies reporting one in six men and one in seven women in Europe will suffer a heart attack at some point in their lives. These frightening figures and the major burden heart diseases place on the healthcare system have led bioengineers from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, to develop a prototype patch that does the same job as crucial aspects of heart tissue.

Presently, cardiac patches lined with heart cells are applied to restore heart issue in patients with damaged hearts due to heart attacks, or heart defects. However, bioengineers are working to create cell-free patches that do not hinder heart muscle movement.

Thanks to the work conducted by bioengineers at the Trinity College Dublin, we are one step closer to that reality. As the heart is constantly moving and contracting, engineering replacement materials for heart tissue is not an easy task. However, the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering has collaborated with Spraybase to develop thermoplastic polymers that provide electrical conductivity, while also maintaining cell compatibility.

These patches so far, have been able to withstand repeated stretching, showed good elasticity, and have been able to effectively mimic the heart muscle. Professor Monaghan from the Trinity College Dublin have highlighted that they are now “looking forward to furthering the next generation of designs and materials with the eventual aim for applying this patch as a therapy for a heart attack”.

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