Hydrogel injections help repair hearts
More than five million people in the US are living with heart failure. Could a simple injection of jelly-like polymer help shore up weakened cardiac areas?
The disastrous aftermath of a heart attack can be allayed by a simple gel injection, research shows.
Animal studies by Jason Burdick from the University of Pennsylvania in the US and his team found a specially designed hydrogel injected into hearts following cardiac failure helped strengthen the tissue and prevent further damage.
Burdick presented the work at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia in August.
Hydrogels aren't new in medicine. Made mostly of water, the jelly-like polymer substances can be tuned for myriad uses: they can be permanent or melt away after a period, be doped with drugs or living cells to encourage growth and be harden to varying degrees.
This means they're perfect to strengthen damaged soft tissue, such as post-attack heart muscle.
And because they're injected in a catheter inserted under the skin, there's no need for potentially dangerous open-chest surgery.
Check out the video below to learn more about Burdick's work in hydrogel heart repair.