Unlike some organs, the heart cannot fully regenerate itself following tissue damage. After a heart attack, the damaged cardiac muscle is replaced by scar tissue that cannot contract, resulting in a weaker organ. The inability of the heart to pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs is characterized as heart failure, a condition that affects 6.5 million American adults. Efforts to restore damaged heart tissue with bioengineered tissue have faced several challenges. Tissues must be able to properly transmit electrical signals, produce strong muscular contractions for mechanical pumping, cover a large surface area, and undergo vascularization for long-term maintenance.
Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed a platform for 3D culture and tissue engineering, capable of generating up to 16 cm2 of human heart tissue. The “Cardiopatch” is a major advance toward repairing dead heart muscle in human patients.
The cells for the heart patch were grown from human pluripotent stem cells and differentiated into several different cell types. Combinations of differentiated cells were then encapsulated in a hydrogel and allowed to proliferate. After approximately five weeks from the initial pluripotent state, the researchers were able to generate mature and functional human heart tissue. When small tissue patches were implanted onto mouse and rat hearts, the cardiopatches become vascularized and maintained their function.
In order to generate bioengineered tissue, a 3D scaffold or matrix is required for structure and support. Akron provides custom scaffold fabrications for organ regeneration, tissue reconstruction, and regenerative medicine. Our expertise lies in the fabrication of any shape or size scaffold in a variety of natural or synthetic materials using our electrospinning technology with advanced physicochemical properties. Click here to learn more or contact us for more information.