London - Scientists have invented an injectable bandage that can patch up the heart.
If successful in human trials, the bandage could provide alternatives to open heart surgery and be used to repair blood vessels and other organs.
The 1cm by 1cm patch is so small that it can fit through a syringe. Once injected, it unfolds and then acts as a puncture repair kit for the heart.
The bandage, made of laboratory-grown heart cells, can strengthen areas that need extra support before breaking down and leaving behind new tissue.
The University of Toronto Engineering Department posted this video online:
In the research, published in Nature Materials, tests on rats showed the patches improved heart function.
Lead researcher Professor Milica Radisic, from the University of Toronto, Canada, said: "It can’t restore the heart back to full health but if it could be done in a human we think it would significantly improve quality of life."
She added that the bandage could be customised, such as by adding drugs, giving it additional medical uses.