A new project validating a new hydrogel to prevent scar tissue formation after a heart attack

The European Union has awarded a European consortium €4.5 million to the ELR-Scar project to validate a new hydrogel bio-material that will prevent scar tissue from forming in the heart after a heart attack.

A myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, occurs as a result of ischemic heart disease (IHD). Europe has the highest rates of IHD worldwide, with approximately 26.5 million patients. In the days and weeks after a heart attack, damaged cells in the heart are replaced by scar tissue. This scarring, or “remodeling” of heart tissue, can cause further dysfunction and complications for the patient.

There is a clear medical need for new therapeutic solutions that can prevent scar tissue formation and irreversible heart remodeling. Our hope is that this hydrogel will do exactly that to fundamentally improve clinical practice, and reduce the enormous burden that a heart attack and its primary cause, ischemic heart disease, places on society and the individual patient.”

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of the CÚRAM SFI Research Center for Medical Devices at the University of Galway

Professor Pandit leads the ELR-Scar Consortium and was recently awarded the prestigious 2022 Georg Winter Award from the European Society for Biomaterials. The consortium includes seven industry and academic partners across Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and the Netherlands.

The hydrogel solution the team developed is biospecific, which means that its properties or activities differ according to the specific biological molecule it interacts with. It will have enhanced adhesion to the heart tissue and is made of a biodegradable material that is administered to the patient through an intravenous endocardial catheter.

This EU funding recognizes the importance of addressing personal economic and health burdens and adds to the €70 million in EU investment generated by CÚRAM researchers over the first eight years.

ELR-SCAR relies on collaboration across Western and Eastern European countries to work on the regulatory, manufacturing and clinical needs of the project.

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