Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Successes with heart tissue patches from the lab

03.11.2016

Myocardial patches generated in the lab can be grafted on to damaged guinea pig hearts to improve heart function. That is what a team of researchers from Germany, Norway, Scotland and the USA found out and reported now in Science Translational Medicine.

Zebra fish and a few amphibian species can do it, mammals and humans cannot: that is replace dead myocardial cells with new ones. In humans a scar is left in the myocardium following an infarction and heart function usually permanently deteriorates.


Engineered heart tissue grown in the lab is sewn on to the heart like a patch.

Photo: DZHK/Weinberger

That is why cardiologists dream of replacing scar tissue with artificial muscle. A team of researchers headed by Professor Thomas Eschenhagen from the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) and the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf has been able to achieve considerable success in this highly competitive area of research.

The researchers succeeded in transplanting engineered (´synthetic´) human heart tissue generated in the lab on to injured guinea pigs’ hearts. They used guinea pigs because of all small animals the electrical activity of their hearts has most similarities to human hearts. The new transplanted tissue was incorporated into the animals’ heart and the pump function improved by up to 30 percent.

Reprogrammed somatic cells turn into heart cells

One of the lead authors of the study, Dr Florian Weinberger (other lead authors: Dr Kaja Breckwoldt, Dr Simon Pecha), explains what distinguishes the group’s work from others: “We use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), these are reprogrammed human somatic cells from which all kinds of tissue can be grown. In contrast, groups outside Europe often work with tissue derived from embryonic stem cells. However, in Europe these are not allowed to be used for transplantation in humans”.

Another key difference is that the scientists used three-dimensional engineered heart tissue grown in the lab and subsequently sewn on to the heart like a patch, whereas other groups inject cell suspensions directly into the heart muscle. Describing the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches Weinberger says “The disadvantage of the injection technique is that most of the injected cells are washed out of the heart or do not survive the injection. This is inefficient and can also be dangerous if some cells have not yet fully developed into myocardial cells and are therefore still pluripotent. These cells could settle in other parts of the body and form tumours”.

On the other hand, cell injection can be easily carried out via catheter. The tissue patches used in this study have the advantage that significantly fewer of the stem cell-derived heart cells are required and much fewer cells are washed away.

The scientists also performed control tests with other patches made from only matrix or cells other than heart cells, namely endothelial cells. They did this to exclude the possibility that stabilisation of the myocardium and improved cardiac function could be done with any type of tissue. However, heart function did not improve with non-cardiac patches. To rule out false positive results by subjective assessments, the researchers carried out all their tests in a blinded fashion, i.e. that they did not know themselves which animal had received the synthetic cardiac tissue and which had received other tissue.

Original and replacement heart tissue beat (mostly) in time

The twitching cardiac patches made in the lab have their own rhythm and they only achieve their full capacity when they beat in synchrony with the recipient heart. This so-called ‘electric coupling’ is therefore important for the suitability of the replacement tissue. “To achieve this, we sewed the tissue into healthy tissue above and below the scar”. The researchers could observe this coupling of synthetic and native tissue in some of the animals. They do not yet know whether coupling failed or also happened in the other animals and was simply missed by their method of measurement.

The next steps for the use in human beings

There are still a few necessary steps to enable the use of this method for patients. For safety reasons, the researchers must closely examine whether and how many cells are washed out. Furthermore, they want to perform dosage studies to assess whether the number of cells can be reduced for the same effect. The timing of the therapy could also play a role. “We do not yet know whether there are differences in terms of when the synthetic cardiac tissue is added, should it be shortly after damage or when the damage to the heart is already chronic”, says Weinberger. And finally, the experiments must be repeated with larger animals, such as pigs, whose cardiovascular system is much more similar to humans. This work aims at translating the finding in animals to first-in-human therapy and will be supported by a research grant from the DZHK.

Cardiac repair in guinea pigs with human engineered heart tissue from induced pluripotent stem cells. Florian Weinberger et. al., Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 363ra148 (2016)
http://stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf8781.

Contact:
Dr. med. Florian Weinberger, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Institut für Experimentelle Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, f.weinberger@uke.de

Christine Vollgraf, press officer, Deutsches Zentrum für Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung (DZHK), Tel.: +49 30 3465 529 02, christine.vollgraf@dzhk.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://dzhk.de/

Christine Vollgraf | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: DZHK animals guinea pigs heart cells heart function pigs pluripotent stem cells stem cells

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Staying in Shape
16.08.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

nachricht Chips, light and coding moves the front line in beating bacteria
16.08.2018 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>