For the first time ever, scientists have created a complete miniature human heart model in a laboratory. It is currently beats and possesses all major heart cells and the structure of the cavity and vascular tissue.
Research done at Michigan State University opens a new page to the field of biomedical testing. There, research into congenital heart defects will be morally freed up when there is no longer a need for fetal heart cells. Drug trials for managing cardiac side effects have also been performed more accurately on this miniature heart model.
Aitor Aguirre, lead author of the study, who is currently an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan’s Institute of Quantitative Health Sciences and Engineering said: “These mini-hearts form extremely powerful models that help us study all types of heart disorders with unprecedented precision.
Miniature heart organoids model of the Michigan scientists
A miniature heart
The new research is published on the pre-published bioRxiv article posting platform. In it, the scientists present their work on human heart organoids, called hHO for short. This mini-heart model, developed from a new stem cell framework, mimics the developmental environment of the embryo and fetus.
Yonatan Israel, study lead author from Aguirre Laboratory said: “Organoids are 3D-cell structures that self-assemble to synthesize the properties and structure of organs to a significant extent.
In a sense it is a miniature model of any organ, in this case the heart, able to perform some or all of the vital functions of the organ thanks to the main simulated structures. Exactly what’s on that organ.
Organoids – means “like organs“- is currently an extremely hot field of research around the world. These miniature organ models could initially serve for drug trials, eventually building complete organs. to replace human organs.
In their study, scientists at the University of Michigan used induction pluripotent stem cells – adult cells from patients to trigger heart cell growth. Basically, they created an environment like a fetus but that environment happened on a lab plate,
After several weeks of development, the adult stem cells developed and formed a miniature, beatable heart organoids.
From adult stem cells, a mini-heart has been developed.
Aguirre said: “This process allows stem cells to grow, essentially the same as that in an embryo. The stem cells divide into the different types of cells and structures found in the heart. “Give the cells instructions and they know what to do when all the right conditions are met.”
Because organoids follow the natural development of the heart embryo, the researchers were able to observe the natural development of the fetal heart in real time.
Eliminate technical and ethical barriers
One of the main problems facing fetal cardiac development and congenital heart defects is accessibility to a growing heart. Scientists have no way of looking through a mother’s uterus and then through the fetal chest to see the heart of the embryo and the baby firsthand.
Now, with the organoids on the lab plate, all those barriers have been removed. The collection of miniature heart stem cells from adult volunteers also helps scientists overcome the ethical barrier.
In the past, when they wanted to study heart development and birth defects in the fetus, they had to use mammalian models or donated fetuses.
“Now we have the best of both worlds, a precise human model to study these diseases – a tiny heart – without using fetal material or violating the principles. morality. This will make a big leap“, Aguirre said.
So what is the next job? Aguirre says his team is using models of heart organoids to reconstruct what happens on a heart with a birth defect. These defects are so common that they affect nearly 1% of all babies born.
“With the model of heart organoids, we can study the origin of congenital heart disease and find ways to prevent it“, Aguirre said.
The second direction of research is a longer-term goal in which scientists want to develop their organoids into complete hearts. “That’s what we want to do. “, Israel said.
“Organoids are small models of the fetal heart with the structural and functional characteristics representing it. However, no matter what, they are not perfect hearts like human hearts “.
The advantage in the University of Michigan study is that their models of heart organoids can be replicated relatively easily. It is superior to existing tissue techniques and is also cheaper and simpler. That will be an important stepping stone for the development of a complete in vitro complete heart in the future.