Repair hearts and muscles using synthetic tissue

Researchers have developed a biomaterial that can be used to repair hearts, muscles and vocal cords – a development that is considered a major advance in the field of regenerative medicine.

Scientists from McGill University developed the new injectable hydrogel for wound repair. The hydrogel is a type of biomaterial that provides room for cells to live and grow. Once injected into the body, the biomaterial forms a stable, porous structure allowing live cells to grow or pass through to repair the injured organs.

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To test the durability of the new biomaterial, scientists used a machine to simulate the extreme biomechanics of human vocal cords. Vibrating at 120 times a second for over 6 million cycles, the new biomaterial remained intact while other standard hydrogels fractured into pieces, unable to deal with the stress of the load.

Scientists say that they are very excited for the latest development. Before this, there were no injectable hydrogels that possessed both high porosity and toughness at the same time. To solve this issue, they introduced a pore-forming polymer to their formula.

The innovation also opens new avenues for other applications like drug delivery, tissue engineering, and the creation of model tissues for drug screening, the scientists say. The team is even looking to use the hydrogel technology to create lungs to test COVID-19 drugs.

“Our work highlights the synergy of materials science, mechanical engineering and bioengineering in creating novel biomaterials with unprecedented performance. We are looking forward to translating them into the clinic”, said Professor Jianyu Li, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Biomaterials and Musculoskeletal Health.