Gel Injection Could Reverse Heart Attack Damage

Injectable gel appears to repair tissue damaged by a heart attack

(RxWiki News) During a heart attack, tissue dies when it is deprived of oxygen, causing permanent damage that typically lessens the heart's pumping ability. A newly designed hydrogel may treat that tissue damage.

University of California, San Diego researchers have developed a new injectable hydrogel capable of repairing damage to cardiac tissue following a heart attack.

"Don't delay heart attack treatment."

Karen Christman, a leader of the study, professor in the Department of Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and co-founder of Ventrix, Inc., said she plans to begin clinical trials with the newly designed gel within the next year.

There is currently no treatment for repairing damage following a heart attack. About 785,000 in the U.S. alone have a heart attack each year.

The gel is made from cardiac connective tissue that is stripped of heart muscle cells through a cleansing process. It is then freeze-dried and milled into powder form, before it is liquefied for easy injection into the heart.

It works by transforming into a semi-solid gel that encourages cells to begin repopulating areas with damaged heart tissue to preserve heart function once it is heated to body temperature.The hydrogel, which can be infused through a catheter, also constructs scaffold in repairing the tissue, and may be capable of sending biochemical signals that prevent additional damage to nearby tissue.

Researchers previously successfully used the gel to treat rats and pigs, finding that it could improve heart function and that it appears safe for use in humans.

Christman has an equity interest in Ventrix, Inc., a company that could benefit from the research trials, and also serves on the company's Scientific Advisory Board.

The study was published in the Feb. 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.