DEC 18, 2022 8:18 AM PST

A Stem Cell Patch Could Be Used to Treat the Tissue Damage That Occurs After a Heart Attack

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

A myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, depriving the heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients. The lack of blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle, leading to severe complications and potential death.

Myocardial infarctions are typically caused by the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, which can narrow or block the vessels and reduce blood flow to the heart. Symptoms of a heart attack may include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, and pain in the arms, jaw, or neck. 

After a heart attack occurs, the body’s natural healing process may result in scarring of the heart muscle. This can lead to long-term changes in heart function and may increase the risk of future heart attacks. Damaged heart tissue cannot be regenerated naturally after myocardial infarction, prompting researchers to investigate novel ways of regenerating this tissue. 

Many of these efforts have focused on attempts to transplant stem cells to damaged heart tissue. This has proven difficult to implement due to low rates of engraftment of the stem cells, primarily as a result of the surface of the heart being curved and dynamic. This makes it difficult for the stem cells to settle on the heart in time for cell regeneration. 

A research group from the POSTECH-Catholic University has proposed using an in vivo priming bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell (BMSC) sheet to achieve better engraftment rates of stem cells. In initial studies, the BMSC sheet was successfully transplanted in rats.   

After transplantation, the team observed a significant improvement in cardiac function, including contractibility and remodeling of cardiac tissue. This research could present a solution to a longstanding logistical issue in treating post-myocardial infarction tissue damage.  

Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine, Biofabrication

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
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