Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Duke scientists build a living patch for damaged hearts

07.05.2013
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 testing new heart disease medicines.

The "heart patch" grown in the laboratory from human cells overcomes two major obstacles facing cell-based therapies – the patch conducts electricity at about the same speed as natural heart cells and it "squeezes" appropriately. Earlier attempts to create functional heart patches have largely been unable to overcome those obstacles.

The source cells used by the Duke researchers were human embryonic stem cells. These cells are pluripotent, which means that when given the right chemical and physical signals, they can be coaxed by scientists to become any kind of cell – in this case heart muscle cells, known as cardiomyocytes.

"The structural and functional properties of these 3-D tissue patches surpass all previous reports for engineered human heart muscle," said Nenad Bursac, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "This is the closest man-made approximation of native human heart tissue to date."

The results of Bursac's research, which is supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, were published on-line in the journal Biomaterials.

Bursac said this approach does not involve genetic manipulation of cells.

"In past studies, human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes were not able to both rapidly conduct electrical activity and strongly contract as well as normal cardiomyocytes," Bursac said. "Through optimization of a three-dimensional environment for cell growth, we were able to 'push' cardiomyocytes to reach unprecedented levels of electrical and mechanical maturation."

The rate of functional maturation is an important element for the patch to become practical. In a developing human embryo, it takes about nine months for a neonatal functioning heart to develop and an additional few years to reach adult levels of function; however, advancing the functional properties of these bioengineered patches took a little more than a month, Bursac said. As technology advances, he said, the time should shorten.

"Currently, it would take us about five to six weeks starting from pluripotent stem cells to grow a highly functional heart patch," Bursac said.

"When someone has a heart attack, a portion of the heart muscle dies," Bursac said. "Our goal would be to implant a patch of new and functional heart tissue at the site of the injury as rapidly after heart attack as possible. Using a patient's own cells to generate pluripotent stem cells would add further advantage in that there would likely be no immune system reaction, since the cells in the patch would be recognized by the body as self."

In addition to a possible therapy for patients with heart disease, Bursac said that engineered heart tissues could also be used to effectively screen new drugs or therapies.

"Tests or trials of new drugs can be expensive and time-consuming," Bursac said. "Instead of, or along with testing drugs on animals, the ability to test on actual, functioning human tissue may be more predictive of the drugs' effects and help determine which drugs should go on to further studies."

Some drug tests are conducted on two-dimensional sheets of heart cells, but according to Bursac, the 3-D culture model provides a superior environment for functional maturation of cells. This is expected to better mimic real-world heart muscle responses to different drugs or toxins. Engineered heart tissues made with cells from patients with a cardiac genetic disease could be used as the model to study that disease and explore potential therapies.

The current experiments were conducted on one human pluripotent stem cell line. Bursac and his colleagues have reproduced their findings on two other cell lines and are testing additional lines. They are also planning to move to larger animal models to learn how the patch would become functionally integrated with its host and how the patch establishes connections with the circulatory system.

Other members of the research team were Donghui Zhang and Ilya Shadrin from Duke, and Jason Lam, Hai-Qian Xian and Ralph Snodgrass, from VistaGen Therapeutics, San Francisco, who provided cardiomyocytes for these studies. Bursac's team and VistaGen are collaborating to develop engineered cardiac tissues for more predictive drug screening and development.

Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump
14.11.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Automated adhesive film placement and stringer integration for aircraft manufacture
15.11.2018 | Fraunhofer IFAM

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>