Tel Aviv University researchers find a heart of gold

Israeli scientists find that gold nanofibers in engineered heart tissue can enhance electrical signaling.

Knowing that heart tissue sustains irreparable damage in the wake of a heart attack, Israeli researchers set out to find cardiac “patches” that could be transplanted into the body to replace the damaged area. The Tel Aviv University scientists integrated cardiac cells with nanofibers made of gold particles to form functional engineered tissues.

In his Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Dr. Tal Dvir and his PhD student Michal Shevach of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, together with their colleagues, set out to meet one of the biggest challenges in the development of cardiac patches — ensuring that engineered tissue can mimic the heart’s coordinated electrical system, which controls heartbeat and rhythm.

Aware that 50 percent of heart attack victims die within five years of their initial attack, Dvir and his colleagues turned to gold particles hoping it could serve as a new treatment option. A functioning, transplantable tissue could not only save lives, but improve a patient’s quality of life overall.

Gold has been found to increase the connectivity of biomaterials, says Dr. Dvir. With the addition of the gold particles, cardiac tissues contract much faster and stronger as a whole, he reports, making them more viable for transplants.

The research was recently published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.
  • Fabian

    It’s a cutting edge research. Kol ha-kavod