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Expanding tissue scaffold could help avoid open-heart surgery

Sport & Fitness

A team at the University of Toronto have developed a regenerative patch that can be injected into the body and help repair damaged organs.

With doctors facing huge challenges looking after patients post heart attacks and other heart surgery, research is currently booming in investigating ways of repairing permanent damage to the organ. Researchers at the  Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering have developed a new regenerative patch, which could mean the end to evasive surgery on already weak patients. The expanding tissue bandage is flexible and can be implanted via a small needle.

The new technique uses nanochips to re-programme skin cells and these then generate any type of cell necessary for medical treatment. In order for the patch to operate once inserted into the body, it relies on shape-memory behaviour to open into a specific shape. It has already been tested on heart cells and showed signs of promoted heart cell growth. The team in Toronto are already responsible for some impressive innovation in this area, including developing a patch of heart tissue with its own blood vessels. With most patients, the heart’s function is severely reduced following heart surgery and this creation could mean additional open-heart surgery can be avoided.

Regenerative innovation is rising and with more and more people dying at the hands of heart-related illnesses, there are more creations being developed daily. In the US, a soft robot sleeve has been invented to assist with damaged hearts. Could we see less intrusive and life-threatening treatments to hearts in the future?

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