“It’s made from a collagen base, with a layer of fibrinogen and thrombin (growth factors) on top.”
UK-based scientists have produced a revolutionary new biodegradable medical plaster that could transform the lives of thousands of patients a year who have suffered heart attacks or have coronary artery disease.
The plaster, or patch, contains stem cells that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels and muscle cells in the heart. It could be attached during bypass surgery to treat coronary artery disease or following a heart attack. It has been shown to be an effective treatment in rats and the researchers are planning a major clinical trial on people to confirm that it’s also safe and effective for humans.
The plasters could significantly improve the quality of life – and in numerous cases, prevent death – for thousands of people a year, protecting those most vulnerable to heart failure by repairing damage and improving its ability to pump blood, they say.
The British Heart Foundation (@TheBHF) funded the research. A spokeswoman told Bio Market Insights that the plaster is biodegradable and can disappear within 28 days. She added: “It’s made from a collagen base, with a layer of fibrinogen and thrombin (growth factors) on top. The stem cells are then added onto this.”
This technology has been developed over many years of hard work in Professor Ken Suzuki’s lab.
Speaking about the initiative, Kazuya Kobayashi, researcher at Queen Mary University of London, said: “During heart surgery the heart surface is exposed so it’s the perfect time to add the patch. We hope that the patch provides additional benefits of surgery, helping to restore the lost muscle tissue and promote growth of new blood vessels…”
Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “To realise the immense potential of stem cell-based regenerative medicine for treating heart disease, we need to overcome several important hurdles. A key one of which is developing ways that allow stem cells to stay where they are needed the most and for a sufficient period of time to exert their benefit.
“These exciting findings show that a stem cell dressing which is made of natural materials, and can be applied to the surface of the injured heart without using stitches or glue, can potentially do just that.
“Due in large part to research we’ve funded, more people are surviving heart attacks than ever before. But that means there’s a growing number of people at risk of heart failure, as their hearts can’t recover from the damage caused by the heart attack.
“If the benefit shown in this study in rats can be replicated in humans, that could be big step forward towards stopping heart attacks leading to heart failure, which is a debilitating condition that in its late stages is associated with very poor survival.”