New microstructures could help treat heart disease

Scientists are doing so many impressive things with nanomedicine. It makes sense that they’d find a way to treat the most common cause of death with something tiny, too. Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin have created microstructures to help treat heart disease.

Specifically, they wanted to find a way to help mend the damage after a heart attack. While many people survive, it destroys part of the heart muscle, which often leads to heart failure. And there are no drugs or other treatments which can help.
So associate professor of physiology Dr Paul Goldspink and his team built tiny microstructures designed to replicate cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells).

They’re the same size, shape, and texture as real cells and contain heart-protective peptides that can be released when they’re injected into a patient, to help repair the damaged tissue. The microstructures can then be harmlessly broken down by the body.

The technique hasn’t been used for humans yet, but it has been successfully tested in animals with heart disease, where it restored organ function and prevented heart failure. The scientists want to extend their research to human trials as well as using it to restore function for patients with other diseases, too. ‘Our hope for this technology is that it might be adapted for delivery of other therapeutic biologicals to support repair of a variety of tissues and pathologies, with the potential for directing tissue regeneration.’ Dr Goldspink says.

Image via University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley