With heart disorders affecting individuals globally and contributing to increasing mortality rates, there has been a need to develop new treatment options. One of the specific challenges in the field of tissue engineering is to produce blood vessels within heart muscle tissue. In this study, the researchers were successful in this task. Their live models showed significant improvement in heart function, particularly in the amount of vascularization throughout the implanted sections. Further, the tissue engineered construct remained viable even after the three-week implantation period, maintaining cardiac specific function.
"The long-term goal of cardiac tissue engineering is to generate functional cardiac muscle in vitro," states lead researcher, Ravi K. Birla. "Work in this area would lead to the formation of functional heart muscle that can someday help patients with acute heart failure."
Tissue-engineered heart muscle can be used to treat cases of myocardial infarction and to repair congenital heart defects, as well as in the use of drug development to provide insight into cardiac developmental biology.