Tissues are healed from the inside out thanks to a breakthrough biomaterial

Tissues are healed from the inside out thanks to a breakthrough biomaterial ...

The biomaterial is based on a hydrogel developed at UC San Diego. Credit: David Baillot/University of California San Diego

The substance may be administered via intravenous injection and may be utilized for various ailments, including heart attacks and traumatic brain injuries.

A novel biomaterial has been developed that, when injected intravenously, reduces inflammation and stimulates cell and tissue repair. The researchers have demonstrated its usefulness in treating cardiac injury-induced tissue damage through successful testing on both rodent and large animal models. The biomaterial may also be beneficial in the treatment of traumatic brain injury and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

"This biomaterial allows for the treatment of damaged tissue from the inside out," according to Karen Christman, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California San Diego. "It's a novel approach to regenerative engineering."

According to Christman, a study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the biomaterial in human beings might start within the next one to two years. The team, which includes both bioengineers and physicians, has published their findings in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Martin Spang is the first author of a Nature Biomedical Engineering paper that examines a novel biomaterial that heals tissues from the inside out. Credit: David Baillot/University of California San Diego

Every year, the United States receives an estimated 785,000 new cardiac attack cases, and there is no established protocol for repairing the tissue damage that resulted from the heart attack. Scar tissue develops during an attack, which reduces muscle function, and can result in congestive heart failure.

“Coronary artery disease, acute myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure are the most distressing public health issues facing our society today,” said Dr. Ryan R. Reeves, an interventional cardiologist at the University of California San Diego Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

The team headed by Christman has developed a hydrogel made from cardiac muscle tissue's natural scaffolding, also known as the extracellular matrix (ECM), that can be inserted directly into damaged heart muscle tissue via a catheter, and which is believed to be useful until after a heart attack. Because the needle-based injection procedure can only be used once a week or more after a heart attack.

The goal of the project was to develop a therapy that might be administered immediately after a heart attack. This included developing a biomaterial that might be injected into a blood vessel in the heart as other treatments such as an angioplasty or a stent or administered intravenously.

Martin Spang, the paper's first author, studied bioengineering at Shu Chien-Gene Lay University.

Because it's injected or injected intravenously, the new biomaterial has an advantage. In contrast, a hydrogel injected via a catheter stays in specific locations and does not spread out.

Researchers at Christman's lab developed a hydrogel that was found to be safe for blood injections as part of safety studies. Spang, a Ph.D. student at Christman's lab, processed the hydrogel by centrifuge, allowing for sifting out larger particles while keeping only nano-sized particles before being freeze-dried. The resulting material has been placed through dialysis and sterile filtering, and is now a viable cardiovascular material.

Researchers then tested the biomaterial on a rodent model of heart attacks. They expected it to travel through blood vessels and into the tissue because gaps develop between endothelial cells in blood vessels following a heart attack.

Aber something else happened: Biomaterial bound to those cells, closing gaps and speeding the healing of blood vessels, reducing inflammation as a result. Researchers tested the biomaterial in a porcine heart attack as well, with similar results.

The same biomaterial might be effective in rat models of traumatic brain injury and pulmonary arterial hypertension, according to Christman's lab.

Spang said that while the majority of work in this study focused on the heart, the possibilities of using other difficult-to-access organs and tissues may open up the field of biomaterials/tissue engineering to treat new illnesses.

Christman and Ventrix Bio, a startup she cofounded, are planning to get FDA clearance to study the new biomaterial's heart health applications in humans in the coming years.

"To prevent left ventricular dysfunction and progression to congestive heart failure," said Dr. Reeves. "This easy-to-administer medication has the potential to play a significant role in our therapy strategy."

Martin T. Spang, Ryan Middleton, Miranda Diaz, Joshua Mesfin, Tori S. Lazerson, Karthikeyan Gnanasekaran, Takayuki Kato, Sachiyo Igata, Colin Luo, Kent G. Osborn, Nathan C. Gianneschi, Omolola Eniola-Adefeso, Daniel J. Kwon, Ryan R. Reeves, and Karen L. Christman, 29 December 20

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