For patients who suffer heart attacks, the resulting damage to the organ can eventually lead to heart failure. Now a University of Pennsylvania lab is investigating the use of injectable biomaterials that show promise as a new frontier in cardiac repair.
Speaking at the University City Science Center’s Quorum, Dr. Jason Burdick, a Penn bioengineering professor, described how "hydrogels" have delivered promising results that "might be the difference between going on to heart failure or not." (Bioengineering encompasses concepts from biology and engineering; many areas of the field focus on biomedical applications.)
The Burdick Polymeric Biomaterials Lab at Penn was established 10 years ago and immediately began work on hydrogels. The study of cardiac repair began around seven years ago. The aim is to create substances that go directly into the heart tissue to preserve the heart wall thickness and the overall shape of the heart, frequently damaged by heart attack or "myocardial infarction."
Bioengineers are a step closer to growing new cartilage from a patient’s own stem cells.
Cartilage injuries are difficult to repair. Current surgical options generally involve taking a piece from another part of the injured joint and patching over the damaged area, but this approach involves damaging healthy cartilage, and a person’s cartilage may still deteriorate with age.
“The broad picture is trying to develop new therapies to replace cartilage tissue, starting with focal defects—things like sports injuries—and then hopefully moving toward surface replacement for cartilage degradation that comes with aging,” says Jason Burdick, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. “Here, we’re trying to figure out the right environment for adult stem cells to produce the best cartilage.”
Jason A. Burdick, associate professor in the department of Bioengineering, has been selected as a recipient of the Edward C. Nagy New Investigator Award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).
The award will be presented at the first NIBIB Edward C. Nagy New Investigator Symposium on April 12, 2011 at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Burdick is part of a group of eight new investigators, chosen from a list of over 100 investigators, who have demonstrated outstanding, fresh, and innovative work in their fields. The award is named after Mr. Edward Nagy who was one of the driving forces in enacting legislation to create the NIBIB in 2000.