News Release

Advancing treatment to prevent scar tissue after a heart attack

Preclinical validation to commence following EU funding of €4.5m

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Galway

ELR-Scar consortium

image: Members of the ELR-Scar consortium who gathered in Dublin recently to commence the project. Back row, l-r: Boaz Van Driel, Catalyze BV, Netherlands; Audrius Kučinskas, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Lithuania; Emer Garry, CÚRAM, University of Galway; Mark da Costa, CÚRAM; and Vilma Zigmantaite, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Lithuania. Middle row, l-r: Grzegorz Bajor, Medical University of Silesia, Poland; Sham Abdul Cader Mohamed, Medical University of Silesia, Poland; Aiden Flanagan, Boston Scientific Ireland; and Rahul Bhatti, CÚRAM, University of Galway; Front row, l-r: Muireann O'Reilly, CÚRAM, University of Galway; Jonathan Heelan, Boston Scientific Ireland; Sweety Malli, CÚRAM, University of Galway; Abhay Pandit, CÚRAM, University of Galway and ELR-SCAR Coordinator; Vanja Ivancevic, HEMEX Germany GmBH; and J Carlos Rodriguez-Cabello, Technical Proteins Nanobiotechnology, Spain. view more 

Credit: Martina Regan.

The European Union has awarded a European Consortium €4.5 million for the ELR-Scar project to validate a novel hydrogel biomaterial that will prevent scar tissue from forming in the heart following a heart attack.

Myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, happens as a result of ischaemic heart disease (IHD). Europe has the highest rates of IHD worldwide, equalling almost 26.5 million patients. In the days and weeks following a heart attack, the damaged cells of the heart are replaced by scar tissue. This scarring or 'remodelling 'of the heart tissue can cause further dysfunction and complications for the patient.

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at University of Galway, said: "There is a clear medical need for new treatment solutions that can prevent scar tissue formation and irreversible cardiac remodelling. Our hope is that this hydrogel will do exactly that to fundamentally improve clinical practice, reducing the enormous burden that a heart attack and its leading cause, ischaemic heart disease, places on society and the individual patient."

Professor Pandit leads the ELR-Scar consortium and recently received the prestigious George Winter Award 2022 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 being developed by the team is biospecific, which means that its properties or activities vary according to the specific biological molecule it interacts with. It will have enhanced adhesion to cardiac tissue and is made of a degradable biomaterial that would be administered to the patient through an intravenous, endocardial catheter. 

This EU funding recognises the importance of tackling economic and personal health burdens and adds to the €70 million in EU investment generated by CÚRAM researchers during its first eight years. 

ELR-SCAR draws on collaborations across Western and Eastern European countries to work on the project's regulatory, manufacturing, and clinical needs. 


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.