Navigation Links
Duke scientists build a living patch for damaged hearts

DURHAM, N.C. -- 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.


Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University

Related medicine news :

1. Scientists solving the mystery of human consciousness
2. Scientists uncover multiple faces of deadly breast cancer
3. Scientists identify major source of cells defense against oxidative stress
4. Scientists tailor cell surface targeting system to hit organelle ZIP codes
5. Scientists rewrite rulebook on breast cancer in landmark global study
6. Warwick scientists uncover how checkpoint proteins bind chromosomes
7. NIH scientists link quickly spreading gene to Asian MRSA epidemic
8. Joslin scientists identify important mechanism that affects the aging process
9. Scripps Research scientists show how memory B cells stay in class to fight different infections
10. Scientists Map Melanomas Genome
11. A*STAR scientists discover switch to boost anti-viral response to fight infectious diseases
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop a weight loss ... plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, ... , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their exercise program ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 ... brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live ... not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that lice have simply ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin Johnson has dedicated his ... implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his patients. The procedure is ... to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic surgeons use to help ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who have ... these feelings, many turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as ... Michigan, has released tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, ... Elite. The attorneys chosen by their peers for this recognition are considered among the ... Traurig Shareholders received special honors as members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... , June 27, 2016 Jazz Pharmaceuticals ... waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of ... acquisition of Celator Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Celator"; Nasdaq: ... p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). As previously announced ... into a definitive merger agreement under which Jazz Pharmaceuticals ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... OAKLAND, N.J. , June 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... in the design, development and manufacturing of collagen ... and regeneration announced today that Bill Messer ... Sales and Marketing to further leverage the growing ... surgery medical devices. Bill joins the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Research and ... "Structural Electronics 2015-2025: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts" report ... In-Mold Electronics, Smart Skin, Structural Health Monitoring, ... Structural electronics involves electronic and/or electrical components ... replacing dumb structures such as vehicle bodies or ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: