Harvard scientists have merged stem cell and ‘organ-on-a-chip’ technologies to grow, for the first time, functioning human heart tissue carrying an inherited cardiovascular disease.
The research appears to be a big step forward for personalized medicine, as it is working proof that a chunk of tissue containing a patient’s specific genetic disorder can be replicated in the laboratory.
The work, published in Nature Medicine, is the result of a collaborative effort bringing together scientists from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Boston Children’s Hospital, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Harvard Medical School.
It combines the ‘organs-on-chips’ expertise of Kevin Kit Parker, PhD, and stem cell and clinical insights by William Pu, MD (…)
The researchers took skin cells from two Barth syndrome patients, and manipulated the cells to become stem cells that carried these patients’ TAZ mutations. Instead of using the stem cells to generate single heart cells in a dish, the cells were grown on chips lined with human extracellular matrix proteins that mimic their natural environment, tricking the cells into joining together as they would if they were forming a diseased human heart.
The engineered diseased tissue contracted very weakly, as would the heart muscle seen in Barth syndrome patients (…)