Velcro is often used to fasten clothing that we all use every day, but now doctors have made a type of tissue Velcro meant to be used on human hearts. Because heart surgery is complex and often fraught with complications, The University of Toronto, the institution spearheading the project, hopes to make the process safer for patients, allowing them to return to their normal way of life after an operation.
How does tissue Velcro work?
It’s not exactly Velcro, but that’s the easiest way to describe this innovative new tissue grafting process. The medical team uses layers of cells replicated near muscle, which when grafted on top of other layers, imitate Velcro by interlocking. Eventually the cells grow, providing the tissue necessary to support the heart as it heals.
This is not the first time that tissue samples have been used in repairing damaged organs, but the results have never been so positive according to Professor Milica Radisic, who is in charge of the project, “As soon as you click them together, they start beating, and when we apply electrical field stimulation, we see that they beat in synchrony.”
Why use tissue Velcro instead of some other material?
According to Radisic, “One of the main advantages is the ease of use.” By implementing the tissue velcro, doctors can “build larger tissue structures immediately before they are needed, and disassemble them just as easily.”
Life after heart surgery when your heart is partially made of tissue Velcro.
Whether the tissue has been adopted by the body can only be determined post heart surgery. However, with this new tissue Velcro, it is easier than ever to inspect the affected areas.
According to Radisic, “You could take the middle layer out, to see what the cells look like. Then you could apply a molecule that will cause differentiation or proliferation or whatever you want, to just that layer. Then you could put it back into the tissue, to see how it interacts with the remaining layers.”
The simplicity of the procedure will ensure that patients are able to quickly recover and return to their day-to-day lives. The bio-medical engineering breakthrough will also redesign the way doctors perform heart surgery on a scale that is yet to be known.