Myocardial infarctions, commonly called heart attacks, affect thousands of people every year. Myocardial infarctions occur when a blockage in the arteries causes a decrease in blood flow to the heart. This leads to irreversible damage to the heart muscles, loss of cardiac cells, and scarring. Cell therapy seeks to regenerate lost cardiac cells with cardiac stem cells (CSCs) in the heart, but therapy is challenged by low retention after delivery.
Scientists have engineered a painless polymeric cell-integrated microneedle patch, to create “channels” between host myocardium and therapeutic CSCs. The result would lead to a reduction in scar size and the restoration and augmentation of cardiac functions.
The microneedle patch (MN) is constructed by micro molding a widely used biocompatible and biodegradable hydrogel made of polymer poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA). The patch is shaped with conical like needles that could penetrate without breaking and is infused with CSCs. Using rodent and porcine models, the MN-PVAs was transplanted onto the top surface of infarcted hearts. The encapsulated CSCs were released by the dissolving patch to target the scarred area. PVA has a slow dissolution rate and thus allows a sustained release of regenerative factors. Scientists were able to successfully transplant and integrate the patch with minimal toxicity or inflammatory response in both animal models. Results showed overall improvements to heart morphology and function.
The MN system represents an innovative approach delivering therapeutic cells for heart regeneration. This article titled “Cardiac cell–integrated microneedle patch for treating myocardial infarction” was published in Science Advances.