Patch to help hearts regrow

A Sydney researcher is growing soft, flexible, conductive materials as a patch that could help repair the hearts of heart attack victims.

“When someone has a heart attack, some of the cells in the heart die,” says Alex Patton from UNSW.

“Current treatments manage the problems associated with this dead tissue. They offer mechanical support to help the heart pump, or deliver drugs where they are needed most. But you’re still walking around with a piece of dead heart.”

Instead, Alex wants to fix the problem.

He’s developed cardiac patches which could help the cells re-grow.

The first challenge in developing a cardiac patch is finding a material that can conduct electrical charge without using traditional conductive substrates like metal or glass, which are not suitable for use within our body.

Secondly, it needs to be soft, flexible and non-toxic.

Using plastics and water-based gels Alex has developed a process to make conductive polymers – plastics that can pass a charge from one cell to another.

It’s the first step in making electro-conductive patches.

The next step is to provide all the essential nutrients, proteins, and other biological factors that the heart cells need in order to grow and function on the patch.

Contact: Alex Patton, UNSW, a.patton@unsw.edu.au

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