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Engineering the heart piece by piece

ll-growing surfaces and conditions, as well as hurdles that still lie ahead. In all, the authors say, bioengineered cardiac tissue holds immediate promise as a way to study heart disease and its treatment in cell cultures ?and promise over the longer term as a source of new patient treatments.

As part of the effort to make the leap from the lab to the clinic, U-M is applying for patent protection on the Artificial Heart Laboratory’s developments and is actively looking for a corporate partner to help bring the technology to market.

The U-M team’s bioreactor was developed Robert Dennis, Ph.D., formerly of the U-M College of Engineering and now at the University of North Carolina. It allows up to 11 specimens of tissue to be grown in the same conditions at the same time, while allowing each specimen to be “stretched?using a specially made device that can both apply forces and measure the forces generated when the tissue begins contracting and beating on its own. In the new paper, the team reports that it has achieved a doubling of the contracting force in just seven days, by stretching the BEHM at 1 Hertz.

The growing of heart muscle, heart valve and blood vessel tissue in the lab also requires careful control of conditions such as temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, nutrients and pH level. This can then encourage the cells to begin producing the kinds of molecules needed to signal to and connect with other cells, and to produce the extracellular matrix that supports cells in tissue.

The U-M Artificial Heart Laboratory has teamed up with a commercial partner to develop a novel perfusion system that can deliver controlled nutrient exchange to the tissue engineered heart muscle. The perfusion system is the first of its kind, because it does not rely on a traditional cell culture incubator, giving the researchers the ability to carefully control the culture environment of the cells during heart muscle formation and fo
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Source:University of Michigan Health System


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