A Heart of Gold: Artificial Organ Tissues Use Precious Metal

Friday, 19 Jul 2013 01:04 PM

By Nick Tate

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Israeli researchers have engineered new artificial heart tissues using gold fibers that they say help make the organ contract much faster and stronger.
 
The new "heart-of-gold" research shows the precious metal may one day be used in tissues used to replace damaged heart muscles after a heart attack, said lead researcher Tal Dvir, M.D., of Tel Aviv University.

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In a new report on the research published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B, Dr. Dvir and colleagues said they were able to integrate cardiac cells with nanofibers made of real gold particles to create functional engineered cardiac tissues that they said are more viable for transplants and post-heart-attack therapies than existing tissues.
 
Dr. Dvir explained that heart tissues suffer irreparable damage after a heart attack and the organ can’t repair itself. To restore heart function, scientists have been exploring cardiac "patches" that could be transplanted into the body to replace damaged heart tissue. The Tel Aviv research suggests using gold particles in such cardiac patches enhances their ability to control heartbeat and rhythm by improving electrical signaling between heart cells.
 
Because 50 percent of heart attack victims die within five years of their initial attack, new treatment options are sorely needed, Dr. Dvir said. A functioning, transplantable tissue could not only save lives, but improve a patient's quality of life overall.

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