Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, along with collaborators from the Netherlands, have developed a cardiac model made up of designed cardiac muscle tissue that attaches to an elastic material. The design allows the team to mimic the mechanical forces experienced by heart tissue in the body, which should provide them with more accurate data when using the model to replicate disease or study the effects of various treatments. The design could eventually lead to new ways to more accurately recreate cardiac muscle tissue in the lab, which could function as a replacement tissue for patients with heart disease.
Tissue engineering is taking place by leaps and bounds. Although researchers have not yet been able to grow new organs prepared for transplantation in the laboratory, they are getting closer each year. The latter technology aims to grow heart tissue under conditions that mimic the mechanical forces experienced by the heart as it beats.
“Our lab has long been working on engineering and building human heart muscle tissue, so we can better track how the disease manifests and also create therapeutic tissues to one day repair and replace heart damage.” , said Adam Feinberg, a researcher involved in the study, in a CMU press release. “One of the challenges is that we have to build these little pieces of heart muscle on a Petri dish and we’ve been doing it for many years. What we’ve realized is that these in vitro systems don’t accurately recreate the mechanical load we see in real heart due to blood pressure “.
The hemodynamic loads experienced by heart tissue may be important for its normal development, but they also play a role in certain heart diseases. These loads involve the stretching experienced by the heart cells as the heart chambers fill up and also the forces exerted when the heart beats. To replicate these forces in vitro, the researchers connected the designed heart tissue to an elastic strip of polydimethylsiloxane against which the tissue pulls as it beats.
The technology allows researchers to better replicate various clinical scenarios and investigate the mechanics of heart disease. “One of the really important things about this work is that it’s a collaborative effort between our lab and collaborators in the Netherlands, including cardiologist Peter van der Meer,” Feinberg said. “Peter treats patients who have genetically related cardiovascular disease, including a type called arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM) that often gets worse with exercise. We have been able to obtain patient-induced pluripotent stem cells, differentiate them into heart muscle cells, and then use them in our new EHT model to recreate ACM on a Petri dish, so that we can understand “Better.”
Watch a video about the project:
Study a Scientific translational medicine: Dynamic load of cardiac tissue of human engineering improves contractile function and leads to a phenotype of desmosome-related disease