When a person experiences a heart attack, blood flow to the heart muscle is lost and cells die. Since these heart muscle cells cannot be replaced, scar tissue forms in the heart, putting patients at risk for future heart failure or faulty heart function.
Now, biomedical engineers from the University of Minnesota have created a 3D-bioprinted patch that incorporates human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac muscle cells that helped mend heart tissue and function in mice, following a heart attack.
The patch includes cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells that had been differentiated from human-induced pluripotent stem cells. In a dish in the lab, the matrix beat synchronously and began to grow.
For the study, published April 14 in Circulation Research, researchers simulated a heart attack in mouse models and then placed the cell patch in the animal. After just four weeks there was a significant increase in functional capacity of the heart, the researchers report.
No further surgeries were required because the patch, made from cells and structural proteins natural to the heart, became part of the organ and was absorbed into the body.
“This is a significant step forward in treating the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., Brenda Ogle, associate professor of biomedical engineering, said in a statement. “We feel that we could scale this up to repair hearts of larger animals and possibly even humans within the next several years.”