Bioengineered miniature structures could prevent heart failure


Last updated on April 15th, 2022 at 12:53 am

Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa
Innovation: Bioengineered microstructures

InnovationsA Medical College of Wisconsin faculty member is currently working on new technology that could prevent heart failure.

The technology involves delivering biodegradable microstructures to heart tissue damaged by a heart attack in order to help repair the tissue and prevent future heart failure. The microstructures are about 50 times smaller than a grain of rice.

Each year 720,000 Americans have a heart attack, including 515,000 first time heart attacks and 205,000 recurring heart attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While heart attack survival rates are high, the resulting destruction of heart muscle often leads to heart failure. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans. Current pharmaceuticals do not repair or restore function of the depleted muscle.

Paul Goldspink, associate professor of physiology at MCW, and two colleagues came up with a way to restore organ function by exploiting aspects of the chemical and physical environment of the heart. The findings were recently published in the international science journal Biomaterials.

The biodegradable microstructures are bioengineered to be the same size, shape and stiffness as adult heart muscle cells, which keeps the tissue from seeing the microstructures as foreign objects and rejecting them.

The goal of the microstructures is to release into the cellular environment biologically active peptides that act as cardioprotective agents. If you need to buy peptides for your research project, make sure to get it from legit sites online.

“We’re trying to use this system to engage the resident cells within the body, so the hope is to leave behind no structure — just new cells,” Goldspink said. “The whole concept is to aid in tissue repair and support tissue regeneration.”

The technology is currently in the preclinical phase and so far has been tested on mice. While the human heart has about 1,000 times more muscle cells than the mouse heart, Goldspink said the cells are the same size.

Three-thousand microstructures are injected into the mouse heart tissue, and Goldspink said future testing on pigs will provide a better reference point for the number of microstructures needed for the human heart.

The human heart is estimated to have two billion heart muscle cells, and Goldspink said a person could lose several million cells following a heart attack.

The rate of advancement on the research depends on funding, but Goldspink said his team is ready to scale up the technology and test it on larger animals.

In addition to its scalability, the technology can be used to deliver different therapeutics besides peptides, according to Goldspink.

Once approved by the Federal Drug Administration, it could sit on a shelf in an operating room, ready to be used when needed.

Goldspink’s colleagues in researching this technology are Brenda Russell from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Tejal Desai from the University of California, San Francisco. The trio also co-founded a startup company called Cell Habitats Inc.

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