Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Heart Making

Donor cell characteristics affect the outcome of preparing tissue for heart transplant

13 November 2021

Heart Making

Thousands of people wait for heart transplants every year. Bioengineering heart tissue could change that. Researchers look at creating viable heart tissue using human donor hearts considered unsuitable for transplant. First, donor cells must be removed – decellularisation – while preserving the extracelullar matrix (ECM) they sit in, so host cells can be added to repopulate the tissue. The team tested four methods of removing cells, and tissues were imaged before (top) and after (bottom, showing one method) using scanning electron microscopy. Once decellularised, human induced pluripotent-derived cardiomyocytes (hIPCMs) were added and successfully populated the tissues. Some decellularisation methods better preserved the ECM but at the expense of not removing all the donor cells. What’s more, the different methods weren’t equally effective across all donor tissues. The method used, therefore, needs to be tailored to the specific donor tissue and its intended function, highlighting the need for personalised medicine when engineering heart tissue.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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