NEW YORK, BRONX (ORDO News) — Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, killing one person every 36 seconds.
Heart attacks, a common manifestation of heart disease, occur when the blood supply to the heart is disrupted, leading to irreversible tissue damage. Current treatments, such as stents and medications, can reopen clogged blood vessels, but they do not repair damaged heart tissue, leaving patients at risk of further complications.
However, a team of bioengineers and clinical scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Clemson University (CU) may have found a revolutionary solution. The results of preclinical studies, published in the August issue of Science Advances , suggest that nanowire heart organoids can repair damaged heart tissue, offering new hope for cardiac care.
Previous attempts at cell therapy for the heart have focused on using individual stem cells to replenish dead heart cells and restore them. However, this approach faces challenges when dealing with the hostile environment inside the heart after a heart attack. The chaotic landscape of inflamed tissue and the constant pumping of blood make it difficult for individual stem cells to survive and effectively regenerate.
Ing Mei, Ph.D., a bioengineer leading the research team, explained the limitations of previous approaches. “The heart often squeezes stem cells into the blood vessels, leading to potential side effects and ineffectiveness,” May says. “In addition, individual cells face a hostile environment in the heart, especially after a heart attack, which reduces their survival and effectiveness.”
To overcome these difficulties, Mei and his collaborators developed a new strategy using nanowire cardiac organoids. These organoids are clusters of structural cells that provide a stronger cellular structure for stem cell-derived heart cells. By creating small heart-like microtissues, the organoids are better equipped to withstand sudden changes in the heart’s environment.
“By transforming these cells into small heart-like microtissues, we can create a more resilient and durable structure that can withstand sudden environmental changes,” May explained.
To evaluate the effectiveness of nanowire cardiac organoids in treating damaged hearts, Mei collaborated with cell therapy and heart disease experts at MUSC. The team conducted preclinical studies in a damaged heart model and found promising results.
Ryan Barrs, a doctoral student involved in the study, highlighted the potential impact of this approach. “The damage left after heart attacks is usually considered permanent and may require a heart transplant, which is a deficiency,” Barrs said.
“In this case, we have developed electrically conductive ‘mini-hearts’ that can be injected into damaged heart muscle to restore its pumping function.”
Although these studies are still in the preclinical stage, they offer hope for the future of cardiac care. Nanowire cardiac organoids could be a revolutionary solution for repairing damaged heart tissue, reducing the need for heart transplantation and improving patient outcomes.
News agencies contributed to this report, edited and published by ORDO News editors.
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