In the world of science and medicine, new breakthroughs are always being made. In very recent news, a team of researchers from the University of California San Diego has created a game-changing biomaterial that could be the answer to treating tissue damage caused by heart attacks. This new discovery is not only exciting for those suffering from heart conditions, but it also showcases the importance of understanding cell and tissue repair in AP Biology.
Here’s how it works: the biomaterial, which can be injected intravenously or infused into a coronary artery in the heart, is made from a hydrogel derived from the extracellular matrix (ECM) of cardiac muscle tissue. The hydrogel forms a scaffold in damaged areas of the heart, promoting cell growth and repair. In previous studies, the team had already proven the effectiveness of the hydrogel when injected directly into the heart muscle. However, this method could only be used a week or more after a heart attack, as injecting sooner could cause damage during the procedure.
But this new biomaterial takes things to the next level. It’s put through a centrifuge to sift out larger particles, leaving only nano-sized particles, and then undergoes dialysis and sterile filtering before being freeze-dried. Adding sterile water to the final powder results in a material that can be infused into a blood vessel in the heart or injected intravenously, allowing for immediate treatment after a heart attack.
And that’s not all! The biomaterial was tested on rodent and porcine models of heart attacks, and researchers found that not only did it pass through blood vessels and into the tissue, but it also bound to cells and closed gaps in the blood vessels, reducing inflammation and accelerating healing. In addition, the team tested the hypothesis that the same biomaterial could help target inflammation in rat models of traumatic brain injury and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
So, why is this important from an AP Biology perspective? Well, in the course, we’ve learned about the body’s ability to repair and regenerate cells and tissues. By mimicking the B blood cells’ ability to reduce inflammation and react to an infection, this new biomaterial is a prime example of how that knowledge can be applied in the real world to help improve human health. It’s a new approach to regenerative engineering, and the possibilities of treating other difficult-to-access organs and tissues are endless.
The researchers, along with Ventrix Bio, Inc., a startup co-founded by lead researcher Karen Christman, are hoping to receive FDA authorization to conduct a study in humans within the next one to two years. This is exciting news for those affected by heart conditions, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this groundbreaking biomaterial.