Research we're watching
A team of scientists have created a tiny heart muscle "pump" using human cells and a three-dimensional bioprinter. The model heart — which was sized to fit inside a mouse's abdominal cavity — may one day prove useful for studying new heart medications and other therapies, they say.
The researchers first tried using heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) in the 3D printer, but the cells didn't grow to a sufficient size and volume. So they instead used so-called pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to transform into different cell types. After printing a chambered structure, they were able to program the stem cells to become cardiomyocytes, which then began to organize and work together. Within about a month, the cells began beating together, similar to a human heart. The research is detailed in a study published July 3, 2020, in the journal Circulation Research.
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