Researchers create shape memory polymer to comprehend the advancement of coronary illness

Researchers create shape memory polymer to comprehend the advancement of coronary illness


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  • Source: American Institute of Physics

  • Date: 03 Mar,2021

Cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death globally. Unfortunately, the heart cannot regenerate new tissue, because the cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells, don’t divide after birth.

In their paper, published in APL Bioengineering by AIP Publishing, Syracuse researchers developed a shape memory polymer to grow cardiomyocytes. Raising the substance’s temperature from 30 degrees Celsius to 37 degrees Celsius turned the polymer’s flat surface into nanowrinkles, which promoted cardiomyocyte alignment.

The research is part of the developing field of mechanobiology, which investigates how physical forces between cells and changes in their mechanical properties result in development, cell differentiation, physiology, and disease.

The researchers offer a synopsis in their newspaper of how some of the most recent stimuli-responsive biomaterials (SRBs), which include the shape memory polymer, are used to mimic the dynamic microenvironment during heart development and disease development.

Such research could provide better insight into the biomolecular and regulatory mechanisms that promote cell maturation, the last stages of cell differentiation, and spur the onset of disease.

Scientists have developed cardiac microenvironments by incorporating external stimulations, such as pressure or stretching, to promote cardiomyocyte growth and maturation. But, they haven’t managed to control these microenvironments enough to reproduce the incremental gradual changes that occur in the body to understand the processes of rebuilding or remodeling heart tissue.

To address this challenge, researchers are using SRBs to learn more about how the microenvironment operates during heart development. SRBs, which can be highly tunable, respond to temperature, pressure, power, and other external stimuli to provide cues for cell and tissue development. SRBs experience property switches in response to outside stimuli, which means they can deliver on-demand changes that happen over time to influence the behaviours of cultured cells.

The perfect situation researchers are trying to find is the introduction of a synthetic 3D SRB-based cell culture platform that could change its material properties to mimic the natural development of heart development. The platform could also help them learn more about the physical and chemical properties that lead to heart disease.

It is crucial to understand how time-dependent biophysical cues affect cells during tissue formation. However, conceptual models are still based largely on results from studies of static, 2D experimental platforms in which biophysical cues remain constant over time.”

Zhen Ma, Study Author

Ma indicates there must be a sharper focus on SRB electric properties to expand the understanding of cardiac responses to extracellular changes. Embedding carbon nanotubes to enhance the conductivity of different polymer scaffolds, for example, has been shown to improve intercellular communication and cardiomyocyte development.

Journal reference:

Shi, H., et al. (2021) Stimuli-responsive biomaterials for cardiac tissue engineering and dynamic mechanobiology. APL

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