A THREE-DIMENSIONAL (3D) model of a human left heart ventricle has been successfully bioengineered by researchers at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. The new creation was built with the aim of providing a device that can be used to test drugs, study disease, and develop patient-specific treatments for arrythmia and various other heart conditions.
The heart model, which has been >10 years in the making, consists of a nanofibre scaffold that has human heart cells scattered within it. This acts as a 3D template that provides the cells with the guidance they need to form the ventricle chambers that beat in vitro. This model is a novel method for researchers to study the function of the heart using the same clinical tools as would be used on a real human heart, such as pressure–volume loops and ultrasound.
The nanofibre scaffold was developed using a platform known as pull spinning, which involves a high-speed rotating bristle that pulls a droplet of polymer solution from a reservoir into a jet. The polymer spirals under speed and, once solidified, detaches from the bristle and moves towards a collector. The ventricle consists of a combination of biodegradable polyester and gelatine, obtained using a bullet-shaped rotating collector. As the collector spins, it allows all of the fibres to align in the same direction.