Researchers successfully grow functioning mini hearts from stem cells

August 25, 2020

A breakthrough at Michigan State University (MSU), US, has seen the first-ever miniature human hearts – grown from stem cells – made in the lab. The human heart organoids (hHOs) come complete with all primary heart cell types and have functioning chambers and vasculature. The hHOs could allow for new treatments of conditions like congenital heart disease, and provide an ethical platform for testing drugs and treatments on the heart.

To make the heart organoids, MSU scientists first took samples of skin or blood cells from adults and reprogrammed them into stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs). The IPSCs will then differentiate into whatever other cell types as needed or when all the appropriate conditions are met, much like an embryo.

The hHOs growth closely follows the fetal development of a human heart – by day six the organoids started beating, and by day 15 they had grown into spheres around 1 mm (0.4 in) wide, complete with complex internal chambers. They also contained all major cardiac cell types.

The MSU scientists said that their lab-grown mini hearts provide new understanding of how hearts develop and can even be made to grow in bulk, compared to previous experiments that simply involved “humanising” rat hearts.

Category: Education, Features

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