Nanowires give you heart of gold, literally

Star-shaped nanowires are seen in this scanning electron microscope image.

Harvard University)

Researchers at MIT and Harvard University have developed tiny gold-studded scaffolds that can be used to build tissue in which cells have a synchronous beat, a possible repair tool for treating heart-attack victims.

In a study reported in Nature Nanotechnology, Daniel Kohane, a professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), and colleagues improved the electrical conductivity of scaffolds used to grow cardiac cells.

They devised a new scaffold material but based it on alginate, an organic substance that’s already used in tissue scaffolds. They combined the alginate with a solution containing gold nanowires, which are good conductors.

After cardiac cells were seeded on the composite scaffold, the researchers compared the conductivity of the gold-enhanced cells with cells grown on regular alginate. They checked each for the presence of calcium, which helps electrical signals travel in the tissue.

In the vid below, calcium-labeled cells glow green. The gold-enhanced scaffold cells, pulsing together, showed a signal range enhanced by three orders of magnitude.

“Tissues grown on these composite matrices were thicker and … [Read more]

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