The cells grow easily in this long environment because it mimics their normal growth pattern

Researchers have found a new technique for maturing human heart cells that could act as applicable cardiac patches.

Researchers from the University of Toronto -- led by Milica Radisic, Canada Research Chair in Functional Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering and Associate Professor at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and the Department of Chemical Engineering -- have created new "biowire" that allows human cardiac cells to act like real heart tissue.

The biowire consists of human cardiomyocytes (which were derived from stem cells) placed along a silk suture. The cells grow easily in this long environment because it mimics their normal growth pattern. 

From there, electric pulses were used to stimulate the cells, resulting in an increase in their size. It also allows them to beat and connect like the real deal. The sutures can then easily be sewn into patients as full transplants of cardiac patches. 

The team aimed to imitate the escalation of fetal heart rates previous to birth, achieving zero to 180 and 360 beats per minute.

This could be groundbreaking, as it's difficult for these cells to survive during transplants of cardiac patches. But by placing them in an environment they're used to, such as the long suture, they can flourish and survive through the transplant. 

This could also lead to better drug screenings because human heart cells are needed to test human heart drugs, and using reprogrammed human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC's) has been an issue up until this point because they tend to be too immature for transplants. 

This study was published in Nature Methods. 

Source: Eurekalert

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