The main application of this technology is in cardiac tissue engineering.
During a heart attack, the obstruction of blood flow to cardiac tissue leads to cell death that reduces the ability of the heart to contract effectively. Recent developments in regenerative tissue engineering have led to the development of cardiac patches, or cardiomyocytes seeded into a hydrogel matrix, with the aim of growing these cells into a functional implant to heal the damaged tissue. However, cardiomyocytes neither proliferate well nor regain their function under these conditions.
Researchers at MIT and Boston Children's Hospital have developed a nanocomposite scaffold, comprised of gold nanowires embedded in a hydrogel matrix, for culturing cardiomyocytes. The inventors have demonstrated that the cells not only proliferate, but also establish the intercellular electrical connections requisite for contractility. Cardiomyocytes grow more robustly on the nanocomposite scaffold than on a conventional hydrogel, further demonstrating the therapeutic potential of this material.
- Robust growth of cardiomyocytes on an implantable hydrogel matrix
- Biocompatible, inert materials used
- Cardiomyocytes demonstrate electrical properties similar to native tissue