Research ArticlesTissue Engineering

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

Science Translational Medicine  20 Feb 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 173, pp. 173ra25
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005503

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Healing Biomaterial Delivered to Heart

Repairing a broken heart takes more than just time—it may also take a special hydrogel material derived from the heart itself. After a heart attack, cells die and are replaced by a thick scar, which cannot pump blood like normal tissue. This results in total heart failure and death in these patients that survive the initial heart attack. In response, Seif-Naraghi and colleagues have developed a biomaterial that can be injected into the heart to prevent scar formation and help the heart to heal and function as it normally would.

The authors used a pig model to study the effects of a myocardial extracellular matrix (ECM)–derived biomaterial on heart healing after myocardial infarction (MI). Two weeks after MI, the material was delivered via catheter to the target region of the heart—much like it would in a real clinical trial with patients. Control animals received either no injection or saline only. After 3 months, tests were performed to see if the heart had healed, if it functioned properly, and if the material caused any irritation to the heart tissue. Seif-Naraghi et al. reported improvements in heart function in the matrix-injected animals and worsening of function in the controls. Their data suggest that the matrix can prevent post-MI negative left ventricular remodeling by improving systolic function and contractility. Other than function, the material appeared to encourage healthy muscle and blood vessel formation in the infarcted areas, whereas tissue from control animals was thin and fibrotic.

This myocardial matrix material did not damage peripheral tissues, such as the lungs and liver, or disrupt cardiac rhythm in pigs. Even with direct injection into the left ventricle lumen in rats, there was no inflammation, edema, or hemorrhage. These data in a large animal show that the myocardial ECM–derived material not only improves functional outcome after a heart attack but also is safe and nontoxic, thus making the material ready to move forward toward clinical tests in people.