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New ways to Heal Damage after a Heart Attack

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

More than a million Americans have heart attacks each year. Researchers at Northwestern University and University of California, San Diego have designed a minimally invasive platform to deliver nanomaterial that turns body’s inflammatory response into a signal rather than means of scarring following a heart attack. The researchers from Northwestern-UC San Diego established a novel way to deliver a bioactivated, biodegradable, regenerative substance through a noninvasive catheter without clogging in-vivo in a rat model.

When a person has a heart attack, the extracellular matrix is stripped away and scar tissue forms in its place, decreasing the heart’s functionality. The team injects a self-assembling peptide that seeks out a target, the heart’s damaged extracellular matrix and the solution is then activated by the inflammatory environment itself and gels.

The team’s preclinical research was led in rats and segmented into two proof-of-concept tests. The first test recognized that the material could be fed through a catheter without clogging and without interacting with human blood. The second determined whether the self-assembling peptides could find their way to the damaged tissue, bypassing healthy heart tissue. The scientists attached a fluorescent tag to the self-assembling peptides and imaged the heart to see where the peptides eventually settled.

Researchers now know that when they remove the fluorescent tag and replace it with a therapeutic, the self-assembling peptides will locate to the affected area of the heart. One hurdle is that catheter delivery in a rodent model is far more complicated than the same procedure in a human.

A major innovation occurred when sterically constrained cyclic peptides, which flow freely during delivery and rapidly assemble into hydrogels when they come in contact with disease associated enzymes. The process creates conditions for the peptides to better self-assemble on top one another and form the scaffold that resembles the native extracellular matrix.

SOURCE
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/nu-fab042319.php

 

 

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