Muhammad Yousaf, a York University chemistry professor, and his graduate student team stuck three types of cardiac cells together to get a 3D heart tissue that beats as one heart.
The scaffold-free tissue contains three cell types that are found in the heart: contractile cardiac muscle cells, connective tissue cells and vascular cells. Most other 2D and 3D tissues do not beat harmoniously and need scaffolding for cells to attach and grow on.
“This breakthrough will allow better and earlier drug testing, and potentially eliminate harmful or toxic medications sooner,” Yousaf said in a news release.
Approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the U.S., according to the CDC. An additional 735,000 Americans have a heart attack annually.
The substance that the researchers used to attach the tissues to each other, ViaGlue, gives researchers the ability to create and test 3D in vitro cardiac tissue in their labs to be able to study the different treatment options for people who suffer from any form of heart disease.
“Making in vitro 3D cardiac tissue has long presented a challenge to scientists because of the high density of cells and muscularity of the heart,” said Dmitry Rogozhnikov, a chemistry Ph.D. student at York University. “For 2D or 3D cardiac tissue to be functional it needs the same high cellular density and the cells must be in contact to facilitate synchronized beating.”
The 3D cardiac tissue was only on a millimeter scale, but Yousaf said that larger versions could be made. He also has a startup company called OrganoLinx that plans to commercialize the ViaGlue reagent and create 3D tissues on demand.
The research was supported by the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), OrganoLinx and an NSERC CREATE grant in Canada. The study was published online in the Nature journal.
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