Researchers say the damaged cardiac tissue following heart attack could improve if a stem-cell infused patch together with overexpression of specific cell instruction molecule is applied.

This has been proved in animal models and the tissue functions better when stem cells were directly injected in the heart tissue, say researchers at Cincinnati University. The study is being presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Meeting in Chicago Nov. 15.

Researchers find that the overall heart functioned better when a tri-cell patch, made up of cardiomyocytes (to restore heart contractility), endothelial cells (to build new blood vessels) and embryonic fibroblasts (to provide support to the cell structure), was applied to the surface of the damaged area of the heart.

"Following myocardial infarction, better known as heart attack, tissue becomes damaged and scarred, cardiomyocytes die and heart pump function is reduced,” said Yi-Gang Wang at the department of pathology and laboratory medicine.

"There are therapies being tested by other researchers where stem cells are injected directly into damaged heart muscle to see if contractile function can be restored.”

"In our current study, we wanted to determine if the amplified instructions from overexpressed miR-29, a microRNA, in animal models would enhance the effectiveness of the cell patch by reducing barriers in the infarcted area, leading to enhanced regeneration of heart tissues and resulting in the restoration of heart function after myocardial infarction,” he said.

Researchers injected either the virus-mediated miR29b or a control material into the heart of the animal model and then experimentally induced a heart attack.“These models allowed us to determine the possible benefits of miR29b and outcomes observed in two different control groups,” said Wang.