Fully functioning artificial human heart muscle patches have been created by researchers as a means of addressing previously irreparable damage to the organ.
Developed by Duke University, the patches are grown from human pluripotent stem cells placed at specific ratios in a jelly-like substance that allows them to self-organise and grow into functioning tissue.
“Scientists have developed a means of creating fully functioning artificial human heart muscle patches that can be used to repair the damage that follows a heart attack.“
Rocking the samples to bathe and splash them proved to be crucial step in improving nutrient delivery to the point where large, fully functional patches were feasible, as this method delivered three to five times better results than with static samples.
The new patches are around 16 sq cm in size and five to eight cells thick, with tests showing the muscle is fully functional, with similar electrical, mechanical and structural properties to a normal, healthy adult heart, including the ability to beat.
This represents a significant step towards the end goal of repairing dead heart muscle in people who have experienced heart attacks, which is not currently possible.
Nenad Bursac, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, said: "Creating individual cardiac muscle cells is pretty commonplace, but people have been focused on growing miniature tissues for drug development. Scaling it up to this size is something that has never been done and it required a lot of engineering ingenuity."
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