Scientists have succeeded in making 3D heart tissue that is able to beat in synchrony. The artificial ‘heart’ is meant to assist scientists to better understand cardiac function. The findings are documented in a paper published in Scientific Reports.
People have tried building heart tissues in the past—tried and not exactly succeeded. The majority of the 2D and 3D in-vitro cells that have been concocted are not able to beat in synchrony as a true heart does. This is why the new research is unique: a 3D heart tissue that is able to mimic the harmony of a beating heart has been made by Professor Muhammad Yousaf together with a group of students. It is hoped that this finding will enable researchers to gain a broader understanding of cardiac health, and to test potential drugs.
“This breakthrough will allow better and earlier drug testing, and potentially eliminate harmful or toxic medications sooner,” said Yousaf.
Manufacturing 3D hearts is no small feat. The challenge lies in finding the right density of cells, and imitating the correct muscularity of the heart.
The new 3D heart is made up of 3 types of heart cells glued together to beat as one, just like a heart does, instead of beating at varying intervals, like artificial models made in the past have. Professor Yousaf and his team designed a methodology to make the cardiac cells (namely, contractile cardiac muscle cells, connective tissue cells and vascular cells) adhere together; otherwise, heart tissues created this way would need much scaffolding to get the cells stick together.
Yousaf and his team used a substance called ViaGlue to put the cells together. This ‘glue’ will allow scientists to study heart disease and transplantation by producing 3D in-vitro cardiac tissue of their own (in laboratory) to be used for testing.