The Heart of the Matter

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Science  21 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6173, pp. 817
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6173.817-c

A common problem after a serious wound or injury is the formation of scar tissue that prevents the full restoration of functionality. Scarring can occur rapidly, so there is a need for a quick and easy way to deliver protective materials to damaged tissues. After myocardial infarction (MI), otherwise known as a heart attack, there is an expansion of the infarct site in the left ventricle (LV) that is caused by the healing process. A key component of this adverse LV remodeling is the family of extracellular proteases known as the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are regulated by the presence of tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs). In an effort to modulate the balance of MMPs and TIMPs to prevent LV expansion after MI, Eckhouse et al. developed an injectable degradable hydrogel based on hyaluronic acid that was loaded with recombinant TIMP-3. Using a porcine model, which has a similar coronary anatomy to humans, the hydrogel was locally injected into the heart after MI. After 7 days, TIMP-3 was specifically localized to the injection sites. More importantly, in comparison to the control animals, the gel-injected pigs showed a reduction in the infarct size, improved remodeling of the LV, and increased cardiac function.

Sci. Transl. Med. 6, 223ra21 (2014).

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