For some people reading this for the first time could be unbelievable and bizarre. The sort of stories you get from science fiction. But nowadays most science fiction is rapidly turning into science reality.
Scientists have actually made the first-ever functional miniature human heart in a laboratory.
This breakthrough could help us understand how hearts develop and heart diseases can be treated.
In order to achieve this feat, scientists grafted samples of skin or blood cells from adults and using a reprogram method, they converted these body cells into stem cells known which has the ability to differentiate into whatever other cell types are needed.
The mini hearts are similar to the fetal development of a human heart. It was that by day six the hearts had started beating. At day 15, they had grown into spherical shoes around 1 mm (0.4 in) wide with complex internal chambers and all the major cardiac cell types.
In the latest study, published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, the scientists demonstrated how it was able to culture 3D heart tissue that can beat, express genes and respond to drugs in a similar way to an actual human heart. To create the heart tissue, the team treated stem cells with a vitamin A metabolite which converted them into heart cells.
The scientists claim that the new method is much faster to grow compared to previous methods.
These practices are not a new thing because In the past scientists have made micro versions of other human organs like kidneys, livers, lungs, blood vessels and even brains.
It was earlier reported in 2019 that a team of researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel successfully printed a 3D heart using human tissue and vessels, While the heart wasn’t full-sized — it was about as big as a rabbit’s heart. People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels.
What’s the reason of growing these organs in the first place? The scientists claim their research could lead to a new way of treating diseases such as congenital heart diseases. They also added that such artificially made organs can be used to test tge side effects of new drugs.
Aitor Aguirre, senior author of the laboratory team emphasized,
“This process allows the stem cells to develop, basically as they would in an embryo, into the various cell types and structures present in the heart. We give the cells the instructions and they know what they have to do when all the appropriate conditions are met.”