Diabetes, Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.  Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
 Article 303
    Published on February 9, 2018


This injectable gel can regenerate tissue of the heart or repair the broken heart after myocardial infarction (heart attack)


The contractile heart cardiac muscle cells are called cardiomyocytes. These cells help the heart in pumping blood throughout the body including to the heart.

This injectable gel can regenerate tissue of the heart or repair the broken heart after myocardial infarction (heart attack).

A heart injury due to heart attack (myocardial infarction. MI) causes loss of these cells and causes the formation of cardiac scars or dead tissue. An earlier study shows cardiomyocytes fail to regenerate after a heart injury and studies could not find evidence. So heart fails to pump sufficient blood to the body with each beat and reduces the survival chances and increases the risk of death (mortality). Heart attack deaths account for nearly 50 percent of the deaths related to heart diseases in the United States and Europe.

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Now, the researchers found an innovative way for the resumption of replication process in existing cardiomyocytes with an injectable hydrogel. The injected gel releases microRNAs (miRNAs) into the heart muscle slowly and enables cardiomyocytes to replicate. This gel treatment was successful in enabling the heart cells to repair themselves and heal. There is no need of introducing new cells.

Two important features of this gel for the effective protection of the microRNAs and effective delivery of the gel to the heart muscle for regeneration of cardiomyocytes are.

  • The gel can become more fluid and can flow easily through the catheter or through the syringe as the bonds in the gel will be broken under mechanical stress.
  • Bonds in the gel will form again when mechanical stress is removed. This allows the gel to stay within the heart muscle.

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In experiments with heart attack induced mice models with this gel treatment, researchers have found a division of cardiomyocytes (heart cells) and reproduction activity of the cardiomyocytes and improved heart function. Experiments show.

  • Increase in the number of cardiomyocytes in the muscle tissue of the heart in normal healthy mice models.
  • Researchers have observed the division of cardiomyocytes and formation of cardiomyocytes clusters in response to the microRNAs released from the gel in the heart attack induced mice models.
  • Gel treatment in heart attack induced mice models leading to improved heart recovery, higher ejection fraction (EF), more blood being pumped out of the heart and a small increase in the size of the heart. The heart attack causes an enlargement of the heart due to a non-contractile scar tissue (or dead tissue) and reduces the functionality of the heart.

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In experiments involving mice models, researchers are planning a study involving human heart cells in a controlled environment (vitro) and with animals having hearts similar to humans.

Inventors applied for the provisional patents for the technology. Lead author of the study was Professor Edward E. Morrisey, Ph.D., Morrisey Lab, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, the United States. The study findings were published November 27, 2017, in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering. Title of the article was "Sustained miRNA delivery from an injectable hydrogel promotes cardiomyocyte proliferation and functional regeneration after ischemic injury." DOI : dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41551-017-0157-y

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MicroRNAs : MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNA molecules and they are associated with the regulation of gene expression.

MiRNAs : See MicroRNAs.

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