Testing Silk for Heart Patch Scaffolds

Via ScienceDaily: researchers "are seeking to restore complete cardiac function with the help of artificial cardiac tissue. They have succeeded in loading cardiac muscle cells onto a three-dimensional scaffold, created using the silk produced by a tropical silkworm. Of all the body's organs, the human heart is probably the one most primed for performance and efficiency. Decade after decade, it continues to pump blood around our bodies. However, this performance optimisation comes at a high price: over the course of evolution, almost all of the body's own regeneration mechanisms in the heart have become deactivated. ... In their attempt to develop a treatment for the repair of cardiac tissue, scientists are pursuing the aim of growing replacement tissue in the laboratory, which could then be used to produce replacement patches for the repair of damaged cardiac muscle. The reconstruction of a three-dimensional structure poses a challenge here. Experiments have already been carried out with many different materials that could provide a scaffold substance for the loading of cardiac muscle cells. ... Whether natural or artificial in origin, all of the tested fibres had serious disadvantages. They were either too brittle, were attacked by the immune system or did not enable the heart muscle cells to adhere correctly to the fibres. ... the fibre produced by the tasar silkworm displays several advantages over the other substances tested. ... The surface has protein structures that facilitate the adhesion of heart muscle cells. It's also coarser than other silk fibres. ... This is the reason why the muscle cells grow well on it and can form a three-dimensional tissue structure. ... The communication between the cells was intact and they beat synchronously over a period of 20 days, just like real heart muscle."

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120127135943.htm

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