Bioengineers at Duke University have developed a living patch that one day could be implanted into patients with heart disease to repair damaged tissue.
During a series of experiments involving mouse embryonic stem cells, researchers used a Chex cereal-shaped mold to grow a three-dimensional patch made up of heart muscle cells known as cardiomyocytes. In tests, the new tissue carried electric impulses and beat synchronously like native cells.
In light of recent studies demonstrating that some adult cells can be reprogrammed to function like embryonic stem cells, Duke bioengineers now plan to test their model using non-embryonic stems cells.
Being able to design the heart patch using a patient's owns cells would evade an immune system reaction and overcome additional hurdles, says Duke University assistant biomedical engineering professor Nenad Bursac, PhD.
Since it takes nine months for the human heart to complete development, we need to find a way to get the cells to grow faster while maintaining the same essential properties of native cells.