Scientists have discovered a naturally occurring substance that allows the heart to regenerate its own fully functional cardiac tissue.
Clemson University biological sciences student Meghan Stelly and Alabama cardiovascular surgeon Terry Stelly, investigated a biomedical application following a coronary artery bypass surgery and found that the application allowed the human body to regenerate its own tissue.
The biomaterial extracellular matrix (ECM) is a naturally occurring substance that helps regulate cells and can be harvested and processed in such a way that removes all cells, leaving only the structural matrix, which is made of collagen.
ECM can be molded into a "bio-scaffold" for medical applications to enable a patient's cells to repopulate and repair damaged tissue, scientists said.
Researchers clinically examined a bio-scaffold that was implanted five years earlier to close the pericardium, a double-walled sac containing the human heart, following a coronary artery bypass surgery.
"Pathology results revealed that the bio-scaffold had remodelled into viable, fully cellularised tissue similar to the native pericardium," said Meghan.
"Essentially, the human body regrew its own tissue," said Meghan.
This research demonstrates the long-term effectiveness of this technology as an implant for pericardial closure and cardiac tissue repair.
"Anytime you can have the body regrow its own tissue instead of introducing a foreign object into it is a better outcome for the patient," she said.
The study was published in journal The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.