The University from Northern Italy is one of the largest Italian Universities, with 27 departments, 120 buildings and over 75,000 students. It carries out scientific research and organizes courses in all disciplines, except for Engineering and Architecture. Biotechnology and medical sciences are only some of the areas in which the University excels.
The other University from Central Italy is a public institution with 20 departments and over 44,000 students. It has high level research centres in the agriculture, astrophysics, computer science, engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine sectors.
Two research groups from these universities collaborated on a joint research project for the innovative myocardial patch described.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the single largest cause of death worldwide and is commonly associated with myocardial infarction. According to the WHO, 17.9 million deaths in 2017 were attributable to CVD, an estimated 31% of all deaths worldwide. Of these deaths, 85% are due to heart attack and stroke. Every year CVD causes over 4 million deaths in Europe. Overall CVD is estimated to cost the EU economy almost €196 billion a year. Current therapy for CVD is based on drugs, coronary artery bypass graft and angioplasty procedures. However, such therapies do not restore the functionality of damaged myocardial tissue. In addition, while use of thrombolytics and balloon angioplasty to rapidly reperfuse heart tissue with oxygen has to date greatly reduced morbidity and mortality, paradoxically, about 50% of the damage to heart tissue following myocardial infarction is a result of re-oxygenation (reperfusion injury).
The rationale is to fix the problem by putting two actions together. The technology developed by researchers from these Universities is an in vivo myocardial tissue engineering technology able to simultaneously provide:
1) in situ regeneration using cardiac patch implantation and activation of endogenous cells;
2) myocardium protection from reperfusion injury using cardioprotective small molecules.
The in vivo approach, which this myocardial patch pursues, poses the most ambitious challenges, but is also the most attractive option for the global market.
• new therapy for cardiac tissue regeneration
• localized cardioprotective drug delivery system
• intelligent scaffold for tissue repair after myocardial infarction
• nanotechnology for in situ control of endogenous cells and stem cell niche
The Universities are looking for investors as well as for companies and start-ups that can give technical and logistic support in the production and commercialization of the myocardial patch on an industrial scale. These companies could be biomedical and pharmaceutical industries interested in the production of medical devices using meso-, micro- and nanomaterials. An organization that can conduct GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) preclinical validation in the large animal model is also sought.