Patients who survive a heart attack often have reduced heart function, leading to reduced quality of life, because current medical treatments do not restore the muscle contraction of the heart. Promising new translational research in tissue engineering aims to build heart muscle to replenish muscle lost during a heart attack. The greatest challenge currently is to electrically integrate this new muscle into the heart so that it beats in sync with the heart. We have developed a fully biological suture with a core, degradable fibrin micro-thread that is coated with a continuous layer of heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes). The cells touch each other to pass the electrical signal and the suture can be used surgically, giving it the name of a bioelectric suture. We propose to use this bioelectric suture to stitch new heart muscle onto injured hearts in a pre-clinical model of heart attack to evaluate the efficacy of the approach and its ability to minimize aberrant electrical patterns, called arrhythmias. Our first aim is to increase the speed of electrical conduction by increasing junctions between cells of the suture, which we hypothesize will also decrease the time required for suture-tissue electrical coupling. Our second aim is to implant engineered heart tissue on injured hearts using the bioelectric suture and evaluate electrical activity at short (within 1 day) and long (1, 4 weeks) time points to assess coupling and arrhythmia susceptibility. Successful completion of this project will advance the use of engineered heart tissue for restoring heart muscle after a heart attack and advance the mission of the AHA to "advance the health of individuals and communities" by enabling the translation of these technologies into the clinic for improving the health and quality of life of heart attack patients.
|Program type||Transformational Project Award|
|Effective start/end date||07/01/2019 → 06/30/2022|