Engineered Tissue That Mimics Natural Heart Muscle
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School have presented a way to repair heart tissue by engineering a tissue that closely mimics the heart muscle. The scientists have made use of hydrogels in the research as they are very much similar to the human tissues.
The researchers used a novel hydrogel combined with microscale technologies to create tissue that imitates the biological and mechanical properties of the native heart tissue. The early versions of hydrogels fell apart as they were not as elastic and strong as the human tissue. As a result, the researchers began to develop a new gel using stretchy human protein known as tropoelastin, adding resilience and strength to it.
The hydrogel was the first step which served as a scaffold for the tissue to grow into actual heart cells. The researchers created patterns into the gels by using 3-D printing, so as to coax the cells to grow as the researchers want them to. This resulted in small patches of heart muscle lining up and beating in synchrony within the pattern formed with the elastic substance. This research could lead to cutting down the waitlist for heart transplants and increasing the lifespan of the heart patients.