Each year, millions of Americans suffer from heart attacks or strokes that cause oxygen and blood flow deficiency to the heart. As a result, the thickest part of the heart – the tip – dies off.
Despite bypass surgeries to reroute blood flow throughout the heart, the tip is still an area of cell death that continues slowly over time and overtakes the rest of the heart.
However, one scholar at The University of Texas at El Paso is setting out to research a way to save the vital organ.
Assistant Professor of Metallurgical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering Binata Joddar, Ph.D., has been awarded $437,000 by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences to research bioprinting of stem cells with the aim of creating a cardiac patch to heal the dead area of the heart.
For her project, Joddar plans to convert induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, into cardiomyocytes – the cells that make up the heart wall. Cardiomyocytes are responsible for the contracting and relaxing of the heart and also make sure that the heart is functionally active.
Once the heart wall dies off as a result of heart attack or stroke, so do the cardiomyocytes.
To create a cardiac patch, Joddar and her research team will utilize bioprinting technology.
“My dream is to mend a broken heart wall, literally,” Joddar said. “Once this patch becomes functionally active, we expect it to contract and relax, just like it would on the heart wall.”