Nanofix For A Broken Heart*

Patients recovering from a heart attack might one day get a helping hand from peptide-based nanofiber scaffolds (Sci. Transl. Med., DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3003841). A heart attack leaves cardiac muscle and blood vessels damaged, leading to scar tissue formation and sometimes causing heart dysfunction…

Patients recovering from a heart attack might one day get a helping hand from peptide-based nanofiber scaffolds (Sci. Transl. Med., DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3003841). A heart attack leaves cardiac muscle and blood vessels damaged, leading to scar tissue formation and sometimes causing heart dysfunction or failure. To help repair injured tissue after such an event, a research team led by Patrick C. H. Hsieh of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica tested a new therapy: The researchers injected a peptide nanofiber gel containing the protein VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor, directly into the hearts of pigs just after a heart attack. After 28 days, the pig hearts functioned better and had increased blood vessel density compared with those of pigs given only VEGF or the nanofiber gel. The researchers think that because the nanofiber scaffold degrades slowly and releases VEGF over time it improves recruitment of healthy cells for repair. In a commentary, bioengineer Karen L. Christman of the University of California, San Diego, writes that the next steps for this therapy should be to monitor its effects over a longer period and to test whether it can be injected via a catheter. “With the addition of a few follow-up studies,” she says, “this technology has potential for near-future translation into people.”

 

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