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Beating Mini-Heart Grown In Lab

Scientists at Abertay University in the UK have grown miniature beating human hearts in which they can induce heart disease, enabling them to test newly developed drugs.


(Hypertrophic heart cell; green shows targets for drugs)

Prof. Zhelev and his team have managed to induce ventricular hypertrophy in the mini hearts - a form of heart disease characterized by thickening of the heart muscles, which makes it more difficult for blood to be pumped around the body.

The team used stem cells to grow the hearts, which are only 1 mm in diameter and contract at approximately 30 beats per minute.

Once grown, the scientists infuse the hearts with chemicals that cause abnormal growth of heart cells, known as cardiomyocytes. This causes the heart to become hypertrophic.

Biosensors are then used to pinpoint the molecules and their pathways involved in ventricular hypotrophy, allowing the team to develop drugs that target such molecules in the hope they will halt heart damage.

And Prof. Zhelev says one of the drugs they have tested - a compound that has recently completed phase 2 clinical trials in cancer patients - has already shown promise. The drug was able to stop hypertrophy in its tracks. Prof. Zhelev says:

I don't know of any specific references to the idea of artificial organs being used for research. However, in his 1969 masterpiece Ubik, Philip K. Dick introduced the idea of implanting secondary artificial organic organs - perhaps smaller versions of the originals as backup.

Probably Runciter's body contained a dozen artiforgs, artificial organs grafted into place in his physiological apparatus as the genuine, original ones, failed.
(Read more about Dick's artiforgs)

Via Medical News.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/28/2014)

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