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Heart Patches to Heal Wounded Hearts

Though some wounds heal, they could leave scars or damage which would affect the way we live going forward. When our bodies sustain damage, especially if it goes as deep as our tissues and cells, it would take a long time to repair if at all. Some damages are irreparable. But researchers are hopeful that with new tools and technology, we have a chance of restoring damaged parts.

That's why a team of scientists at Imperial College London have been working on a way to repair damaged heart tissue when people suffer heart attacks. They used millions of human stem cells to produce patches of heart tissue which will replace the damaged ones.

They programmed the stem cells to mature into working heart muscle, or cardiac progenitor cells. The patches are sewn onto the damaged area of the heart to help pump blood and release chemicals to stimulate repair and regeneration.
Using stem cells to treat weakened heart muscle isn’t a new concept. But many existing methods injected stem cells directly into damaged tissue, and without a ‘scaffold’ to hold them in place, the cells would clear out of the heart before achieving significant tissue repair.

The results of the research are promising. However, we have yet to test whether these patches would work on human hearts.

(Image credit: Sian Harding/Imperial College London)

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