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A 3D model of a human heart ventricle

Harvard University researchers have bioengineered a 3D model of a human left heart ventricle made from tissue engineered with a nanofiber scaffold seeded with human heart cells. The scaffold acts like a 3D template, guiding the cells and their assembly into ventricle chambers that beat in vitro. This allows researchers to study heart function using many of the same tools used in the clinic, including pressure-volume loops and ultrasound. The key to building a functional ventricle is recreating the tissue's unique structure. In native hearts, parallel myocardial fibers act as a scaffold, guiding brick-shaped heart cells to align and assemble end-to-end, forming a hollow, cone-shaped structure. When the heart beats, the cells expand and contract like an accordion. After building the scaffold, the researchers cultured the ventricle with either rat myocytes or human cardiomyocytes from induced stem cells. Within three to five days, a thin wall of tissue covered the scaffold and cells were beating in synch. From there, researchers could control and monitor the calcium propagation and insert a catheter to study the pressure and volume of the beating ventricle.

Visit Website | Image credit: Luke MacQueen and Michael Rosnach/Harvard University