Cardiac cells and gold nanofibers join forces to heal damaged hearts


July 25, 2013

There may be new hope for heart attack victims, in the form of patches that incorporate gold nanofibers and cardiac cells (Image: Shutterstock)

There may be new hope for heart attack victims, in the form of patches that incorporate gold nanofibers and cardiac cells (Image: Shutterstock)

When someone has a heart attack, the damaged heart tissue doesn’t grow back. Instead, it’s replaced by non-beating scar tissue. As a result, the heart is permanently weakened. Now, however, researchers at Tel Aviv University are getting promising results using patches that contain cardiac cells and gold nanofibers.

As with other experimental heart patches, the idea behind these ones is that they could be surgically placed on damaged areas of the heart, where they would cause normal, beating heart tissue to grow back.

To create them, a team led by Dr. Tal Dvir started by integrating nanofibers (made of gold nanoparticles) into a three-dimensional nano-scaffolding made of biomaterials. That scaffolding was then “seeded” with heart muscle cells. The high conductivity of the gold allowed those cells to communicate with one another, by sending electrical signals through the network of nanofibers.

When viewed with an electron microscope, the cells were observed to be contracting in unison, which is essential to the proper beating of the heart. By contrast, cells that were placed on scaffolding without the embedded gold nanofibers displayed much weaker contractions.

After more lab work, Dr. Dvir is hoping to move on to human trials of the patches. Similar research is being conducted at MIT, where scientists have created electrically conductive tissue scaffolds that include cardiac cells and gold nanowires.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

If true, this is a major breakthrough !

Pecos Pete

Wouldn't be better to just stop the heart damage in the first place? Where are the tests that can predict an attack? And the treatment that can stop it?

Isn't heart failure the #1 killer?

Don Duncan

Yes,the husband of a friend has heart failure,and this might be good for him.


Those 'tests' to predict a heart attack already exist and have for decades. They include a blood pressure cuff, glucose meter and blood lab tests for Cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels. The Medical/Science field has already identified Cardiac Markers that are specific Biochemical markers released into the blood and by ordering blood work for these enzymes Doctors are able to actually "predict" the risk of a heart attack. Prevention and treatment for any medical condition involves more than a 'test'. A person has to be willing to make and keep lifestyle changes. Decreasing stress, managing high blood pressure, smoking cessation/avoiding second hand smoke, simple diet and exercise and overall health education and awareness are the BEST prevention. And ... heart disease is the number one killer which includes conditions way before any of them would cause cardiac cell death. Hypertension and atherosclerosis are the most common and preventable causes of heart disease. Time to hang the 'white coat' back on the coat rack and allow the amazing Medical Professionals, Scientists and Researchers to continue to save life's despite the lack of recognition or simple "Thank You's" that they deserve.


We can only HOPE that this is a viable solution to heart issues. I van't help but wonder if the same technique can be applied to damaged spinal cords, or many other neurological problems, like ALS, and MS?


Quite informative, being from the third world we have limited access to quality health services, at least your site keep us informed about the breakthrough.

Jagat Sharma
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