New Injectable Gel May Prevent Heart Failure After Myocardial Infarction

Katie Eder

Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have deemed a new injectable hydrogel safe and effective for repairing tissue damage caused by myocardial infarction, providing a platform to bring the gel to clinical trials within the next year.

Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have deemed a new injectable hydrogel safe and effective for repairing tissue damage caused by myocardial infarction, providing a platform to bring the gel to clinical trials within the next year.

In a recent study published in the Feb. 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Karen Christman, PhD, an assistant professor at the university’s bioengineering department, and colleagues established the safety and efficacy of a biomaterial injected in infracted pigs and rats that the researchers treated for two weeks and monitored for three months.

At the conclusion of their study, the researchers found animals injected with the biomaterial — which is derived from porcine connective tissue stripped of heart muscle cells, milled into powder form and then liquefied into a hydrogel — had improved cardiac function, ventricular volumes and wall motion scores without any negative side effects, such as arrhythmic heart beating and inflammation. As a first step to human testing, the researchers exposed human blood to the tissue derivative and found no effect on its ability to clot or activate platelets.

According to Christman, the hydrogel promotes new cell growth and repair after it is injected through a less-invasive catheter by forming a scaffold in areas of the heart damaged by myocardial infarction. As there are an estimated 785,000 new heart attack cases in the United States each year — and no established treatment for repairing the resulting cardiac tissue damage — Christman said regenerative therapies like the hydrogel are useful developments.

“While more people today are initially surviving heart attacks, many will eventually go into heart failure,” Christman said in a press release. “Our data show that this hydrogel can increase cardiac muscle and reduce scar tissue in the region damaged by the heart attack, which prevents heart failure. These results suggest this may be a novel minimally invasive therapy to prevent heart failure after a heart attack in humans.”

To launch clinical trials on the hydrogel in humans by 2014, Christman cofounded heart biotechnology startup Ventrix, Inc., which has licensed the technology for development and commercialization.

Abstract of “Safety and Efficacy of an Injectable Extracellular Matrix Hydrogel for Treating Myocardial Infarction”