Researchers have designed a new type of adhesive patch that can be placed directly on the heart and may one day help to reduce the stretching of heart muscle that often occurs after a heart attack.

The patch, made from a water-based hydrogel material, was developed using computer simulations of heart function in order to fine tune the material’s mechanical properties. A study in rats showed that the patch was effective in preventing left ventricle remodeling — a stretching of the heart muscle that’s common after a heart attack and can reduce the function of the heart’s main pumping chamber. The research also showed that the computer-optimized patch outperformed patches whose mechanical properties had been selected on an ad hoc basis.

The research, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, was a collaboration between computer modeling and mechanics researchers in Brown University’s School of Engineering, cardiology researchers from Fudan University and material scientists from Soochow University.

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