Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Mini heart organoid grown from stem cells has cell types of a 'real heart' and beats

12 October 2020

Mini Heart Organoid

To study the body’s organs and the diseases that affect them, scientists can extract cells from those organs and grow them in culture. Except it’s not always that simple or informative. Take the heart for example. Adult cardiac muscle cells don’t replicate – making them hard to culture – and even if they did, a dish of muscle cells does little to recapitulate an actual beating heart where the cells contract synchronously and are supported by other cell types. The mini heart organoid in the video is the result of researchers’ attempts to grow a more realistic laboratory model of the heart. It was grown from mouse embryonic stem cells using special growth factors to generate the various heart cell types. And, like a real heart, it beats rhythmically. With this improved model, studies of heart development and disease, as well as drug screens, are set to provide richer, more detailed information.

Written by Ruth Williams

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