Research highlight

Heart of gold

Nature Nanotechnology

September 26, 2011

Adding gold nanowires to scaffolds used to engineer patches for treating damaged heart tissue could enhance the conductivity and contraction of these scaffolds, a study in this week’s Nature Nanotechnology suggests.

Current cardiac patches are produced by seeding heart cells in three-dimensional scaffolds, normally made of synthetic or biological polymers such as poly(lactic acid) or alginate, respectively. Unfortunately these materials have poor conductivity, which limits the ability of the patch to contract strongly as a unit. Daniel Kohane and colleagues demonstrate that incorporating gold nanowires into alginate scaffolds enables heart cells grown on these composite scaffolds to respond simultaneously to electrical stimulation. Moreover, tissues grown on this scaffold are thicker and better aligned than those grown on gold-free alginate scaffolds.

Studies in animals are needed to determine whether these engineered tissues will be biocompatible in the body, the authors note.

doi: 10.1038/nnano.2011.160

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