Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Building heart tissue that beats: Engineered tissue closely mimics natural heart muscle

Date:
March 18, 2014
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
When a heart gets damaged, such as during a major heart attack, there’s no easy fix. But scientists working on a way to repair the vital organ have now engineered tissue that closely mimics natural heart muscle that beats, not only in a lab dish but also when implanted into animals.

Human heart in X-ray.
Credit: Stock image. unlim3d / Fotolia

When a heart gets damaged, such as during a major heart attack, there's no easy fix. But scientists working on a way to repair the vital organ have now engineered tissue that closely mimics natural heart muscle that beats, not only in a lab dish but also when implanted into animals.

They presented their latest results at the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Dallas this week.

"Repairing damaged hearts could help millions of people around the world live longer, healthier lives," said Nasim Annabi, Ph.D. Right now, the best treatment option for patients with major heart damage -- which can be caused by severe heart failure, for example -- is an organ transplant. But there are far more patients on waitlists for a transplant than there are donated hearts. Even if a patient receives a new heart, complications can arise.

The ideal solution would be to somehow repair the tissue, which can get damaged over time when arteries are clogged and starve a part of the heart of oxygen. Scientists have been searching for years for the best fix. The quest has been confounded by a number of factors that come into play when designing a complex organ or tissue.

Simple applications, such as engineered skin, are already in use or in clinical trials. But building tissue for an organ as complicated as the heart requires a lot more research. To address this challenge and engineer complex 3-D tissues, researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and the University of Sydney in Australia were able to combine a novel elastic hydrogel with microscale technologies to create an artificial cardiac tissue that mimics the mechanical and biological properties of the native heart.

"Our hearts are more than just a pile of cells," said Ali Khademhosseini, Ph.D., who is at Harvard Medical School. "They're very organized in their architecture."

To tackle the challenge of engineering heart muscle, Khademhosseini and Annabi have been working with natural proteins that form gelatin-like materials called hydrogels.

"The reason we like these materials is because in many ways they mimic aspects of our own body's matrix," Khademhosseini said. They're soft and contain a lot of water, like many human tissues.

His group has found that they can tune these hydrogels to have the chemical, biological, mechanical and electrical properties they want for the regeneration of various tissues in the body. But there was one way in which the materials didn't resemble human tissue. Like gelatin, early versions of the hydrogels would fall apart, whereas human hearts are elastic. The elasticity of the heart tissue plays a key role for the proper function of heart muscles such as contractile activity during beating. So, the researchers developed a new family of gels using a stretchy human protein aptly called tropoelastin. That did the trick, giving the materials much needed resilience and strength.

But building tissue is not just about developing the right materials. Making the right hydrogels is only the first step. They serve as the tissue scaffold. On it, the researchers grow actual heart cells. To make sure the cells form the right structure, Khademhosseini's lab uses 3-D printing and microengineering techniques to create patterns in the gels. These patterns coax the cells to grow the way the researchers want them to. The result: small patches of heart muscle cells neatly lined up that beat in synchrony within the grooves formed on these elastic substrates. These micropatterned elastic hydrogels can one day be used as cardiac patches. Khademhosseini's group is now moving into tests with large animals. They are also using these elastic natural hydrogels for the regeneration of other tissues such as blood vessels, skeletal muscle, heart valves and vascularized skin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Building heart tissue that beats: Engineered tissue closely mimics natural heart muscle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154723.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2014, March 18). Building heart tissue that beats: Engineered tissue closely mimics natural heart muscle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154723.htm
American Chemical Society. "Building heart tissue that beats: Engineered tissue closely mimics natural heart muscle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154723.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins