Monday 5 December 2016

Chemicals Found In Crab Can Save Life


A patch which is made of the chemical, can be attached to the heart without the need for stitches.

It has now been shown to improve the movement of the heart’s electrical pulses across scarred heart tissue in rats.

Heart attacks can leave a person’s heart damaged and unable to pump blood around the body effectively, a condition known as heart failure.

Over half a million people in the UK are living with heart failure.

After a heart attack, scars are formed within the heart muscle. These scars are the body’s way of repairing damaged heart tissue after a heart attack.

However, they can also block the electrical signals that control the coordination of the heart’s pumping action causing heart rhythm disturbances.

The electrically-conductive patch is made from a film of chitosan, a chemical found in crab shells that is often used as a food additive; polyaniline, a conductive material; and phytic acid, a substance found in plants, which is added to the polyaniline to switch it to its conducting state.

Professor Molly Stevens, who led the research at Imperial College London, said: “For people who have suffered a heart attack and have heart failure, arrhythmias are a common and very serious problem, which this patch has the potential to help with.

“No stitches are required to attach it, so it is minimally invasive and potentially less damaging to the heart.”

In addition to helping to prevent arrhythmias in scarred hearts this patch may also advance our ability to use stem cells to regenerate damaged heart tissue.

Professor Sian Harding, director of the BHF Centre of Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College London and a co-author of the study, said: “When a person has a heart attack, they are not only left with scarring but sections of their heart muscle can also be left damaged, meaning that the heart is less able to pump blood around the body.

“We are working on using stem cells to replace this damaged muscle.

“However, when stem cells are first introduced into the heart they don’t immediately beat at the same time as the rest of the heart muscle. This heart patch could help us to address this issue and ultimately bring us one step closer to being able to mend broken hearts.”

So far, the patch has been shown to work in rats but is still some way off being used in patients. The next step is to use tissue taken from human failing hearts removed at transplant as well as mathematical modelling to try to predict whether the patch will have the same effects for a much bigger human heart.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although significantly more work will need to take place before we see this patch used in people, it is a highly novel way to try to enable the heart to function better after a heart attack.

“This research represents real hope for the hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who have had a heart attack and are at risk of developing heart failure.

“Through our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal we have already funded over £25 million of groundbreaking research, like this, which will lead to real benefits for people living with heart failure.”

The research was funded by the BHF, Marie Curie, Wellcome and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology and was published in the scientific journal Science Advances.



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.