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Conductive, self-doping and biodegradable oligoEDOT-heparin biomaterial for improved electromechanical coupling, cardiac cell retention and delivery of paracrine factors

Project description

A novel biomaterial for improved cell therapy after cardiac infarction

Cell therapy following cardiac infarction has shown promising results in terms of infarct size reduction. However, it cannot reverse myocardium injury and fibrosis. The scope of the EU-funded HepEDOT project is to promote cardiac remuscularisation by improving the retention of cells after therapy and overcoming potential side effects such as graft-induced arrhythmia. For this purpose, researchers will test a biodegradable scaffold made of a heparin-based biomaterial capable of supporting cardiac cells and optimising electrical conductivity. Results have the potential to improve cardiac cell therapy as a therapeutic intervention after cardiac infarction.


Cell therapy has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy for cardiac repair, showing modest cardiomyocyte protection and infarct size reduction. It is under debate whether these outcomes are due to the implanted cells or their paracrine factors, as cells are scarce within a few weeks post-implantation. Regardless, this is still not sufficient to promote cardiac remuscularization and reverse medium to severe myocardium injury and fibrosis. Improved cell retention has been achieved with a substantial bulk of implanted cells, but highly associated to graft-induced arrhythmia, representing a significant challenge for clinical translation. The present study seeks to promote cardiac remuscularization after infarct, by improving the retention of cardiac cells and their paracrine factors without causing graft-induced arrhythmia. To do so, a conductive, self-doping and biodegradable oligoEDOT-heparin biomaterial will be synthesized and studied on in vitro and in vivo cardiac infarct models. The conductive EDOT oligomer moiety is envisaged to act as an electrical sink to shield the cardiac tissue from mismatched electromechanical impulses, while heparin will facilitate cardiac cell support and loading of regenerative factors, besides its recently documented doping capacity. The results of this fellowship are expected to overcome low cell retention and graft-induced arrhythmia, two of the biggest obstacles for translation in cardiac cell therapy, but also contribute with new insights regarding conductivity in materials and biological systems, to multiple fields of materials chemistry, medicine and bioelectronics. The world-class academic environment, collaborations and combined interdisciplinary expertise in biomaterials and cardiovascular sciences make the proposed fellowship activities ideally placed for enhancing my career prospects and consolidating my host and Europe in a leading position for translational research.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
United Kingdom

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London Inner London — West Westminster
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76