Adhesive patch that helps treat heart disease

Cardiac patch that can be placed directly onto the heart for treatment of heart disease

Original source: Materials Today

With ischaemic heart disease being one of the biggest causes of death worldwide, cardiac patches made from biomaterials or biological substances are a potential treatment for severe myocardial infarction (MI) and subsequent heart failure. In a collaboration between computer researchers at Brown University in the US, and from Fudan University and Soochow University in China, a new type of adhesive patch has been designed that can be placed directly onto the heart for the treatment of MI.

As reported in Nature Biomedical Engineering [Lin et al Nat. Biomed. Eng. (2019) DOI: 10.1038/s41551-019-0380-9], this viscoelastic adhesive patch, known as a gel point adhesive patch (GPAP), is made from a water-based hydrogel material, and could reduce the stretching of heart muscle that often happens after a heart attack. Standard acellular epicardial patches treat heart attacks by increasing the mechanical integrity of damaged left ventricular tissues, but are of limited therapeutic efficacyas their thickness and stiffness can vary. GPAP improves on this by reversing left ventricular remodeling and restoring heart function after both acute and subacute MI.

GPAP was developed by computer simulations of a beating heart to capture its mechanical dynamics, and attached to the outside of the heart itself to provide mechanical support for damaged tissue, giving it a better chance to heal. The researchers then developed a hydrogel material made from food-sourced starch that matched the properties from the model, with it being crucial the material is viscoelastic, with fluid properties up to a specific amount of stress, but which then solidifies and stiffens to accommodate the movement of the heart and offer the required support. The material can be produced cost-effectively and is straightforward to produce, as well as being non-toxic.

Group leader, Lei Yang, who has since moved to the School of Materials Science at Hebei University of Technology, China, told Materials Today “The main significance is the development of an ultra-low cost, gel point adhesive patch with mechanical properties at the optimal range estimated by simulation approach for MI treatment”. Through laboratory tests in rats, biochemical markers demonstrated the patch helped to reduce cell death, scar tissue accumulation and oxidative stress in tissue that had been damaged by heart attack.

Although further testing is needed, the initial results hold potential for use in human clinical trials in the future. The team now hope to test the GPAP on large animal models to explore its translational potential for human applications, and to design a patch that is customizable to patients, as well as to combine GPAP with biological substances to optimize the treatment of heart diseases.