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This needle-studded patch could help heart patients heal

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By Shoshana Wodinsky

A spike-studded patch sounds a bit sadistic, but researchers say such a device could someday help doctors save the lives of people who have suffered a heart attack.

The experimental patch — actually a plastic film filled with living heart cells and studded with microscopic needles — is surgically implanted directly onto the heart. Once in place, it delivers proteins and other health-promoting compounds released by the so-called cardiac stromal cells directly to the damaged muscle.

The patch is at an early stage of development and hasn’t been tested in humans. But preliminary research on rats and pigs shows that it promotes healing of scarred cardiac tissue and helps boost the heart’s ability to pump blood.

The cell-filled patch represents “an innovative approach [for] delivering therapeutic cells for heart regeneration,” the researchers wrote in a paper describing the research, published Nov. 28 in the journal Science Advances.




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