Researchers at Duke University have developed an artificially-engineered patch consisting of fully functional human heart muscle tissue that can be used to repair damaged areas of the heart. While it’s not the first cardiac tissue to be artificially engineered, it’s significant in that it’s the first that is large enough to be clinically useful to cover an affected area of the heart while being strong enough and as electrically active as native heart tissue.
The Duke heart patch is created similarly to other artificially-engineered cardiac tissues: human pluripotent stem cells are injected into a support structure and are supplied with nutrients and growth factors. Under specific conditions, the stem cells can differentiate into cardiomyocytes and other types of tissues found in the heart. Researchers were successful in growing a patch 2.5 square inches (16 square cm) and five to eight cells thick in size that resembled native cardiac tissue in structure and was fully functional both electrically and mechanically.
Moreover, after implanting the heart patches onto rat and mouse hearts, the researchers saw that the patches maintained their function and became vascularized and integrated with the heart’s native tissues.
Here’s a short video showing off the new heart patch:
Journal abstract in Nature Communications: Cardiopatch platform enables maturation and scale-up of human pluripotent stem cell-derived engineered heart tissues…