Team Develops 3-D Tissue Model of a Developing Human Heart


Source: Syracuse University

Summary: Researchers have developed a process that combines biomaterials-based cell patterning and stem cell technology to make a 3D tissue model that could mimic early stage human heart development.


The heart is the first organ to develop in the womb and the first cause of concern for many parents. For expecting mothers, the excitement of pregnancy is often offset by anxiety over medication they require. Parents and doctors often have to consider the mother’s health as well as the potential risk regarding how medication could affect their baby. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires certain drugs to be labeled with pregnancy exposure and risk. Some drugs are labeled to show that testing on animals has failed to demonstrate a risk but there are no adequate and well-controlled studies of pregnant women. Researchers from the Syracuse University have developed a process that combines biomaterials-based cell patterning and stem cell technology to make a 3D tissue model that could mimic early stage human heart development. The study findings were published in the journal Nature Protocols.

3-D tissue model

Credit: Syracuse University

The research team has been working with human induced pluripotent stem cells to study tissue regeneration, regenerative medicine and stem cell engineering. By starting with a layer of polymer in a tissue culture dish and etching tiny patterns in the polymer, the stem cells will only attach within those patterns. Since the stem cells do not attach to the polymer, they grow within the patterns and eventually develop into a three-dimensional structure that has distinct tissue types. The process developed by the team focused on cardiac tissue but other labs could adapt it to other tissue types and even organ tissues. The platform allows tissue to form during the cell differentiation process rather than building tissue out of already established heart cells. Tissue that forms during the differentiation process has more layers and more accurately represents how tissue naturally develops in humans.

Lead author, Plansky Hoang said, “The traditional way of screening, they take a patient history and then test you on a drug for a month or two and they assess again you after that”, “By using our model we can test for multiple drugs at once so if there is a series of drugs that will potentially benefit you, we can test all of them at once as opposed to one at a time that takes longer.”


More Information: Plansky Hoang et al, “Generation of spatial-patterned early-developing cardiac organoids using human pluripotent stem cells”, Nature Protocols (2018). DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2018.006 


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