Israeli Scientists Improve Transplants with a ‘Heart of Gold’

July 21, 2013  

Scientists at Tel Aviv University are integrating cardiac cells with nanofibers made of gold particles to create engineered cardiac tissues for transplants and post-attack therapies.

Heart tissue cells cannot multiply or regenerate, and cardiac muscle contains few stem cells, making it impossible for the tissue to repair itself.

As a result, the heart becomes fibrotic and cannot contract properly, creating challenges for cardiologists trying to save lives, and nightmares for patients and their desperate families.

Coming up with a viable transplantable cardiac “patch” to replace the damaged heart tissue has become a major focus in the field – and a group of Tel Aviv University scientists appear to have done it, with nanofibers made of gold.

A team led by Dr. Tal Dvir and PhD student Michal Shevach at the university’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology used integrated nanofibers made of gold particles integrated with cardiac cells in order to form functional engineered tissues.

Their goal was to optimize electrical signaling between cells. 

Gold has been found to increase connectivity of biomaterials, Dvir explained. Add gold particles to cardiac tissues, and they contract much faster and stronger, making them more viable for transplants, he said.

The research was published recently in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.

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