Conductive polymer patch designed to repair damaged hearts
After a heart attack has occurred, some of the beating cardiac tissue ends up being replaced with non-beating scar tissue – this permanently compromises the function of the heart. A new patch, however, is designed to help.
Being developed at Ireland's Trinity College Dublin, the device is intended to be attached to the outside of the heart, bridging an area of scar tissue. Made of a medically-approved stretchable polymer, it's coated with a mesh of a separate electroconductive polymer, known as polypyrrole – this is done through a "melt electrowriting" process, developed by Trinity spinoff company Spraybase.
It is hoped that once implanted on the heart, the patch will be able to pick up the electrical signals of the surrounding cardiac cells, transmitting their signals across the gap, and expanding and contracting in time with them. So far it has been tested on isolated pieces of biological tissue, with animal trials planned to follow.
And we have previously seen other experimental "heart patches," designed to perform much the same function. While many of these incorporate actual living heart cells, the Trinity patch is intended to work all on its own – although it could also work with added cells, for increased functionality.
A paper on the research, which is being led by Asst. Prof. Michael Monaghan, was recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
Source: Trinity College Dublin