Scientists created mini heart on microchip with stem cells

Jul 18, 2015 12:04 IST

Scientists belonging to the University of California of the USA conducted a research that led to the development of mini heart (Cardiac Microphysiological System) on a microchip using human stem cells. The study was led by Indian-origin scientist Anurag Mathur.

The Cardiac Microphysiological System, which is hardly the width of a human hair, is expected to replace non-human animal models that are used in drug discovery and development process.

The invention was published in the second week of March 2015 in the Scientific Reports journal in an article titled Human iPSC-based Cardiac Microphysiological System For Drug Screening Applications.

What is Microphysiological System?

Microphysiological systems are engineered organs that are developed to address the formidable pharmacological and physiological gaps between monolayer cell cultures, animal models and humans. The Cardiac Microphysiological System is the latest human organ - after a lung, a liver and a piece of intestine – were developed under laboratory environment.

How Cardiac Microphysiological System/ mini heart was developed?

It was developed using human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) that can form many different types of tissues. These cells, once tricked into forming heart tissue, were grown around a special silicon microchip with cell and media channels that mimicked the heart’s blood vessels.

Significance of Cardiac Microphysiological System

Apart from replacing the animal models used in the drug discovery process that do not mimic human responses; the organ-on-chip will help in the development of personalized medicine in future as doctors will be able to predict how certain drugs react on specific patients, thus preventing many illnesses and loss of valuable time.

Doctors will be able to calculate the approximate dose needed for patients with heart conditions by deploying this bionic heart technology as they will be able to have his or her heart modelled in a lab with all the tests done.

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