A new biomaterial developed by scientists that can be injected intravenously has shown a reduction in inflammation in the tissues and has the potential of promoting cell and tissue repair.
Table of Contents
According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Diego, a new biomaterial has the potential of healing damaged heart tissue from the inside out if delivered soon after a heart attack.
After just six hours, a heart attack can kill cardiac muscle tissue, permanently damaged by scarring the tissue. This damage further prevents the proper functioning of the heart. This led scientists to find a way of preventing the scarring of the tissue by healing it soon after a heart attack.
When observed in model organisms (rodents and pigs), the scientists observed that the biomaterial was able to reduce inflammation and repair tissue damage that happens soon after a heart attack.
The study was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering by a team of scientists led by Karen Christman, Bioengineer, University of California.
He wanted to work with the extracellular matrix, which provided structure and support to the cells of cardiac tissue and, like stem cells, has regenerative properties and is comparatively less expensive.
Christman’s team, in 2009, using the matrix particles, was able to produce a hydrogel. Trials were run on rats and later on humans. The results proved that cell growth and repair were promoted in the areas where the material bonded to the damaged tissue.
However, only a needle could deliver material to the heart due to the presence of large particles in the hydrogel. As stated by Christman, arrhythmia could be set off if the heart was to be poked with a needle. To use this treatment, the doctors would need to consider waiting for a few weeks to wait for the heart to get stable and for the chances of irregular heartbeats to be reduced, and this would be very late to prevent scarring of the tissue.
The team was interested in making a product that would be given as a treatment immediately after a heart attack. This indicated the development of a biomaterial that could be infused into a blood vessel in the heart or intravenously injected at the same time as other treatments like stent or angioplasty.
The scientist took the hydrogel created previously and kept only nanoparticles, as the larger particles were sifted out with the help of a centrifuge. This mixture was diluted by the addition of water. This led to the generation of a material that was thin enough to be delivered intravenously to the heart’s blood vessels.
The team had hypothesized that due to the size of the nanoparticles, the mixture would be able enough to slip through the gaps in the cardiac blood vessels created by a heart attack and would stick to the surrounding tissue, and while the heat is healing, it would create a protective barrier.
However, the experiments on model organisms found that the biomaterial prevented the movement of inflammatory cells into the heart tissue, which prevented further damage to the heart, by binding to the blood vessels that were leaking.
The team reported that the biomaterial was able to decrease the inflammation in the heart and meanwhile encouraged the healing process by promoting cell growth.
The advantage of biomaterial over hydrogel is that hydrogel tends to remain at a specific location where it is injected and does not spread out, whereas biomaterial manages to get distributed evenly since it is injected intravenously.
Expected Future Trials
To get the biomaterial set for the clinical trials, further safety studies will need to be done. The first trial of biomaterials in humans will probably be for the post-heart attack repairing of cardiac tissue. As Christman stated, most of his motivation is moving out of the lab into the real world.
A different application could be the use of biomaterial in the treatment of leaky blood vessels or the treatment of the brain after a traumatic injury.
According to Martin T. Spang, Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering, University of California, even though most of the work in the study is related to the heart, there are possibilities for the treatment of difficult-to-access tissues and organs and this can lead to a field of possibilities of using biomaterials or tissue engineering in the treatment of new diseases.
As said by a Biomedical Scientist, Vimala Bhardwaj, Stanford University, tests are needed to investigate if the biomaterial can be proved helpful in the treatment of headaches, and cognitive or memory deficits that are caused by a traumatic injury in the brain, to find out if this is an effective way of treatment of traumatic brain injuries.