Revolutionary heart plaster raises hopes for thousands of patients


New member
Revolutionary heart plaster raises hopes for thousands of coronary artery disease patients
Experiments in rats show patch to be highly effective — it will now be tested in humans
Revolutionary new heart patch could become part of standard heart surgery bypass procedures
Tom Bawden

September 1st 2019

Scientists have developed a revolutionary new biodegradable medical plaster that could transform the lives of thousands of patients a year who have suffered heart attacks or have coronary artery disease. If further tests prove as successful as those already carried out, the patch could be available on the NHS within a decade, researchers claim.

The plasters could significantly improve the quality of life – and in numerous cases, prevent death – for thousands of people a year, protecting those most vulnerable to heart failure by repairing damage and improving its ability to pump blood, they say.

“This is a revolutionary development that could potentially be a game-changer in heart treatment. It could considerably improve the quality of life of people with heart problems and may potentially save many lives,” said Kazuya Kobayashi, of Queen Mary University of London.

The plaster, or patch, contains stem cells that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels and muscle cells in the heart. It could be attached during bypass surgery to treat coronary artery disease or following a heart attack. It has been shown to be an effective treatment in rats and the researchers are planning a major clinical trial on people to confirm that it’s also safe and effective for humans.

Expected to be effective in humans
Dr Kobayashi expects the plasters to be highly effective at preventing heart failure in humans but cautions that much more research is needed to make sure.

However, he is hopeful that the treatment can clear safety and efficacy hurdles and be available on the healthcare service within a decade.

Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: “If the benefit shown in this study can be replicated in humans, it could be a big step forward towards stopping heart attacks from leading to heart failure – a debilitating condition that in its late stages is associated with very poor survival.”

The patch overcomes a key hurdle to the successful deployment of stem cells by allowing the stem cells to stay where they are needed the most and for a sufficient period of time to exert their benefits, he added.

The plaster is about 10cms high, 10 cms wide and 1mm thick and is made from collagen, a skin protein, and the blood protein fibrin. It doesn’t require any glue and degrades within a month. It acts as a delivery system for stem cells, a ‘blank slate’ variety of cell which the body can turn into whichever cell type is required.

A treatment using these kind of stem cells is already available and involves injecting them into the heart. But this delivery method has not proved particularly effective and carries the risk of complications such as arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, researchers say.

But delivering the stem cells using the new plaster is nearly three times as effective as the injection method and much safer, according to experiments in rats by Dr Kobayashi and colleagues, detailed in the journal Biomaterials.

The plaster technique increased the percentage of blood pumped out of the left ventricle of the heart with each heartbeat by 13.4 per cent – a key measure of heart function known as left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF).

This is a significant improvement in the ability of the heart to function, considering that the LVEF of a typical healthy heart ranges from 55 to 70 per cent.

By contrast, delivering the stem cells with a syringe increased LVEF by 5.3 per cent.

Invasive procedure
Because it involves heart surgery to attach the plaster, the new technique is most suited to the 16,000 in the UK who are already having a coronary bypass or ventricular assisted device inserted each year as it can be done in the same procedure, Dr Kobayashi says The device is a mechanical pump that’s used to support heart function and blood flow in people who have weakened hearts.

Further done the line, it could potentially be attached to the heart using endoscopic surgery, he said.

The research project was presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Paris.

Heart disease: The facts
In the UK there are more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year due to heart attacks: that’s one every five minutes.

Around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived a heart attack.

Over 900,000 people in the UK are living with heart failure.

Men and Women have similar rates

There are around 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK: 3.9 million men and 3.5 million women.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart and circulatory disease. It is also the most common cause of heart attack.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy (IC) is a condition when your heart muscle is weakened as a result of a heart attack or coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle become narrowed.

This inhibits your heart’s ability to properly pump blood, which can cause symptoms such as chest pain, fainting and shortness of breath and lead to heart failure.