One needle could 'inject' repair for a weakened human heart: Western University

An injectable potentially heart healing patch is seen inside a syringe in this supplied computer image from Western University.

A new medical device, created in London, Ont., may be able to repair weakened hearts with only an injection.

Designed by Western University Engineering Professor Kibret Mequanint, the device is basically a patch, small enough to pass through a needle.

“This material can be squeezed into a syringe or catheter and can be injected directly to the sight of the weakened heart,” Mequanint tells CTV News London.

Soon, its creation could offer hope to those recovering from heart attacks or waiting for a heart transplant.

Mequanint has already completed a short-term study on small pigs in conjunction with the University of Manitoba.

It found “encouraging results” as the pigs experienced improved heart function and blood flow.

A second, six-month study showed none of the animals experienced any toxicity complications from the patch.

Made of three components -- elastin, gelatin and carbon nanotube -- the patch has a unique feature, separating it from existing methods of heart repair.

For one, highly invasive open-chest surgery is avoided.

Secondly, the patch can remember its shape, allowing it to expand after it passes through a needle or catheter.

Mequanint admits the latter would be the likely method of delivery in humans.

Humans could also benefit from the conductive abilities of the patch, following a major heart event.

Mequanint says it can be guided to an area of dead tissue in the heart where the patch restores a “majority” of function.

“Once it is put on the surface of the impacted area, the contraction will be improved so much. It will allow sufficient blood to be injected from the heart to the rest of the body. And therefore, the heart seems to function much better than any previous discoveries.”

Animal model testing will continue for another two years. If positive results continue, Mequanint says the patch will be tested on people.

“We anticipate that within the next couple of years, this thing will be ready for human trials.”

More information on the patch can be found in a study published by Nature Biomedical Engineering.