Animal heart tissue will not be needed anymore for human drug testing, as researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf have discovered a technique to develop a 3D human heart tissue model that represents a beating human heart tissue. This is the first ever 3D human heart tissue model that emulates the exact function of the heart’s atria, which are the uppermost chambers of the heart, and it is grown using expressed genes, beats, and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPCSs).
The 3D human heart tissue responds to various drugs in the exact same manner as the real atrium of the heart does. In comparison with the standard technique of 2D monolayer (ML) format, the 3D engineered heart tissue (EHT) exhibits more identical analogy as the human heart tissue. As the human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM) presents a highly reliable model for excitability of the human heart tissue, it is considered as the most trusted and promising means for testing various drugs or researching on various genetic disorders.
The researchers state that the recent developments in hiPCS-CM generate more opportunities for investigating various cardiac diseases and treatments without sacrificing animals. They have presented morphological and functional evidence that confirm the higher degree of the maturity of hydrogel-based engineered heart tissue (EHT) in hiPCS-CM. Thereby, it potentially eliminates most challenges in the development of new drugs and aid other researchers to improve the preclinical screening of various pharmacological agents and the efficacy of treatments for several heart conditions, such as atrial fibrillation or arrhythmia.
“This is the first ever discovery of generating the human atrial heart tissue in vitro from unlimited source of hiPSCs, such as a metabolite of vitamin A called all-trans retinoic acid and genetically reprogrammed blood and cells with an immature stem-cell-like state. We could take a step ahead with this research to provide a reliable study mechanism that can initiate more developments in drugs and treatments for arrhythmia. However, there is always a room for improvement in the current model and we are planning to discover new potential drugs study mechanisms of electrical remodeling of atrial fibrillation in the coming years,” said Marta Lemme, the first author of the research report.