Scientists develop an engineered cardiac tissue model to study the human heart

January 30, 2014

When it comes to finding cures for heart disease scientists are working to their own beat. That's because they may have finally developed a tissue model for the human heart that can bridge the gap between animal models and human patients. These models exist for other organs, but for the heart, this has been elusive. Specifically, the researchers generated the tissue from human embryonic stem cells with the resulting muscle having significant similarities to human heart muscle. This research was published in the February 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal.

"We hope that our human engineered cardiac tissues will serve as a platform for developing reliable models of the human heart for routine laboratory use," said Kevin D. Costa, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Cardiovascular Cell and Tissue Engineering Laboratory, Cardiovascular Research Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, in New York, NY. "This could help revolutionize cardiology research by improving the ability to efficiently discover, design, develop and deliver new therapies for the treatment of heart disease, and by providing more efficient screening tools to identify and prevent cardiac side effects, ultimately leading to safer and more effective treatments for patients suffering from ."

To make this advance, Costa and colleagues cultured human engineered cardiac , or hECTs, for 7-10 days and they self-assembled into a long thin strip that pulled on the end-posts and caused them to bend with each heart beat, effectively exercising the tissue throughout the culture process. These hECTs displayed spontaneous contractile activity in a rhythmic pattern of 70 beats per minute on average, similar to the human heart. They also responded to electrical stimulation. During functional analysis, some of the responses known to occur in the natural adult human heart were also elicited in hECTs through electrical and pharmacological interventions, while some paradoxical responses of hECTs more closely mimicked the immature or newborn human heart. They also found that these human engineered heart tissues were able to incorporate new genetic information carried by adenovirus.

"We've come a long way in our understanding of the ," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "but we still lack an adequate tissue model which can be used to test promising therapies and model deadly diseases. This advance, if it proves successful over time, will beat anything that's currently available."

Explore further: Scientists build a living patch for damaged hearts

More information: Irene C. Turnbull, Ioannis Karakikes, Gregory W. Serrao, Peter Backeris, Jia-Jye Lee, Chaoqin Xie, Grant Senyei, Ronald E. Gordon, Ronald A. Li, Fadi G. Akar, Roger J. Hajjar, Jean-Sébastien Hulot, and Kevin D. Costa. Advancing functional engineered cardiac tissues toward a preclinical model of human myocardium. FASEB J. February 2014 28:644-654; DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-228007

Related Stories

Scientists build a living patch for damaged hearts

May 6, 2013
Duke University biomedical engineers have grown three-dimensional human heart muscle that acts just like natural tissue. This advancement could be important in treating heart attack patients or in serving as a platform for ...

Hybrid heart valve is strong, durable in early tests

November 18, 2013
A hybrid heart valve created from thin and highly elastic mesh embedded within layers of human cells was strong and durable in a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013.

New method generates cardiac muscle patches from stem cells

June 19, 2012
A cutting-edge method developed at the University of Michigan Center for Arrhythmia Research successfully uses stem cells to create heart cells capable of mimicking the heart's crucial squeezing action.

Unfolded protein response contributes to sudden death in heart failure

December 2, 2013
A researcher at the Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) at Rhode Island, The Miriam and Newport hospitals has found a link to human heart failure that if blocked, may reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. The paper, written ...

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.