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Patch Helps Mend Damaged Hearts
Date:7/30/2008

Study finds it promotes growth of healthy tissue after heart attack

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- A mesh patch designed to regenerate cardiac muscle damaged by a heart attack or heart failure has done well in animal studies and preliminary human trials.

The patch is made of vicryl, a material used for suturing injured tissue that is later absorbed by the body, explained Jordan J. Lancaster, a predoctoral fellow at the Southern Arizona VA Medical Center in Tucson, who reported on the animal studies Wednesday at an American Heart Association meeting in Keystone, Colo.

"The mesh is grown in a bioreactor with human dermal fibroblast cells," Lancaster said. When the patch is placed on the heart, it delivers cells that grow to strengthen the heart muscle.

"We evaluated this patch in two studies," Lancaster said. "One was in an acute situation, immediately after a heart attack, the other was in chronic heart failure."

After a heart attack, he explained, there is abnormal enlargement of the left ventricle, which pumps blood to the body. The ventricle also works harder, which can ultimately lead to heart failure.

Applying the patch to rats after a heart attack, "we were able to prevent the negative functioning and the negative remodeling," Lancaster said. Blood flow to the heart muscle increased by 37 percent for rats who got the patch immediately after a heart attack, and the blood-pumping ability of the heart increased by 40 percent.

A second series of experiments applied the patch to rats three weeks after a heart attack to study its effect on heart failure. Blood flow was improved by 116 percent, and blood-pumping ability improved by 21 percent.

The animal studies were sponsored by Theregen Inc., a San Francisco company that has started human studies of the patch. A first study, primarily to test the safety of the patch, was done last year by Dr. Bartley P. Griffith, chie
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