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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Valentine's Day 2024: Scientists create gel to mend broken hearts — How does it work?

Hydrogel has been created to cure cancer, damaged cardiac tissue following new scientific discovery

By Web Desk
February 14, 2024
An illustration of a human heart. — iStock/File
An illustration of a human heart. — iStock/File

Scientists have created a wood pulp hydrogel to strengthen anti-cancer medications and restore damaged cardiac tissue.

Now that they have created a novel hydrogel that can be utilised to repair damaged heart tissue and enhance cancer therapies, you can cure a broken heart on Valentine's Day, according to SciTech Daily.

Dr Elisabeth Prince, a researcher in chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo, collaborated with scientists from Duke University and the University of Toronto to design a synthetic material that is made of wood pulp-derived cellulose nanocrystals. The material's unique biomechanical qualities are recreated by engineering it to mimic the fibrous nanostructures and characteristics of human tissues.

“Cancer is a diverse disease and two patients with the same type of cancer will often respond to the same treatment in very different ways,” Prince said. “Tumour organoids are essentially a miniaturised version of an individual patient’s tumour that can be used for drug testing, which could allow researchers to develop personalised therapies for a specific patient.”

In his capacity as the head of the Prince Polymer Materials Lab, Prince creates artificial hydrogels that mimic biological systems for use in medicine. Large pores in the hydrogels' nanofibrous design allow nutrients and waste products to be transported, which has an impact on the materials' mechanical qualities and cell interaction.

These human-tissue mimic hydrogels were employed by Prince, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Waterloo, to encourage the growth of small-scale tumour replicas made from donated tumour tissue.