September 30, 2011
Gold Nanowires For Heart Patch Muscle Cells

Tissue engineering to fix hearts with muscle cell patches (which is already going into clinical trials) might be improved with gold nanowires to better coordinate the muscle cells that come in a patch.

A team of physicians, engineers and materials scientists at Children's Hospital Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have used nanotechnology and tiny gold wires to engineer cardiac patches, with cells all beating in time, that could someday help heart attack patients.

As reported online by Nature Nanotechnology on September 25, the addition of gold wires to the engineered heart tissue make it electrically conductive, potentially improving on existing cardiac patches. Such patches are starting to go into clinical trials for heart patients.

"If you don't have the gold nanowires, and you stimulate the cardiac patch with an electrode, the cells will beat only right where you're stimulating," says senior investigator Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, of the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at Children's Hospital Boston. "With the nanowires, you see a lot of cells contracting together, even when the stimulation is far away. That shows the tissue is conducting."

Tissue engineering is on the verge of becoming a huge field. The revenues from early entrant products will fund growth in development for new types of patches and eventually whole organs. 20 years from now the idea of having to live with a tennis elbow or a bad anterior cruciate ligament or a damaged part of your heart will seem so historical.

Patches of muscle cells grown with nanowires will probably be better organized as a result.

After incubation, the patches studded with the gold nanowires were thicker and their heart muscle cells better organized.

These scientists are now going to move on to implanting patches in animal models. Then come humans.

In the longer term gold nanowires might only get used when growing the tissue patches. For implantation the nanowires might be a transitional technology until it becomes possible to guide nerve cells into growing new connections to hook directly into implanted heart patch tissue.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 September 30 08:43 PM  Biotech Tissue Engineering

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