Scientists have grown a tiny copy of a working heart

Science has an unprecedented opportunity to study the peculiarities of the heart, its defects, and diseases. This happened thanks to the work of scientists from the University of Michigan: specialists have grown the tiny model of the heart. It is a complete copy of the real heart - it consists of the same cells, has four chambers, the vascular system develops, and functions as a living organ. 

Artificially created organ models are called organoids. These are three-dimensional cellular structures that reproduce the properties and structure of the organs they simulate. In this case, we are talking about human heart organoids (hHOs). It is crucial that scientists not only "assembled" an organ from fragments of various tissues, but also grew it from stem cells, having programmed them in a certain way. Development of the artificial heart exactly repeated the stages that the organ goes through in the womb. Thanks to this, specialists were able to observe for the first time the process of human heart formation in real-time. 

Previous technologies for creating three-dimensional models of the heart were very labor-intensive and required huge time expenditures. The method developed by Michigan experts allows growing many hHOs simultaneously. Currently, experts are working on recreating situations of birth defects in the heart, which affect at least 1% of newborns worldwide. 

- These mini hearts are incredibly powerful models to study all types of heart disease with a degree of accuracy never seen before," said Aitor Aguirre, senior author of the study and associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan. - With the help of heart organoids, we can study the origin of congenital heart disease and find ways to stop it. 

Specialists suggest using hHOs to study a wide range of cardiovascular diseases, from heart damage due to chemotherapy for tumors to the effect of diabetes in a pregnant woman on the developing heart of the fetus. 
 

Aug. 24, 2020, 10:09 a.m.

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