Growth Factor Delivery Systems for the Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases remain the biggest cause of deaths worldwide, even though they are largely preventable. Occlusion of arteries, primarily as a result of atherosclerosis leads to a deprivation of oxygen that in tissues such as the myocardium leads to tissue infarct, which results in permanent muscle damage and death. Pharmacological and surgical therapy constitutes the traditional method of treatment and despite its high efficiency is not able to regenerate the cardiac tissue. Novel therapies like gene therapy, cell therapy, protein therapy and tissue engineering are based on understanding the intrinsic cardiac repair process. Localized delivery of exogenous growth factors is believed to be therapeutically effective for replication of cardiac cellular components involved in both development and in the healing process, thus making them important factors for protein therapy. However, drug delivery systems are required for the distribution of growth factors at the right time and place, preserving protein bioactivity. In this chapter we review the important criteria for designing growth factor delivery systems, beginning with an overview of biomaterials and growth factors in order to give more details of the use of drug delivery systems for growth factors in the treatment of myocardial infarction. We also describe work that has been done so far and the challenges faced by researchers in this field.