The medical research field has been looking into creating better solutions for delicate yet complex procedures that require utmost precision when dealing with heart problems and stem cell therapy is one of the possible solutions for treating heart failure.

Luckily, Gladstone Institutes, whose mission is to overcome major unsolved diseases, has just given coronary disease researchers an excellent tool to advance methods and medicines for heart problems with its latest breakthrough, which was published on the Scientific Reports online journal on April 20.

The study titled "Miniaturized iPS-Cell-Derived Cardiac Muscles for Physiologically Relevant Drug Response Analyses" reports that a team of scientists from Gladstone Institutes have successfully bioengineered heart muscles from stem cells and these could be used to safely carry out drug tests for patient-specific diseases.

"[The bioengineered micro-scale heart tissues] will enable scientists in stem cell biology and the drug industry to study heart cells in their proper context [...] In turn, this will enhance our ability to discover treatments for heart disease," Gladstone Conklin laboratory's postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study, Nathaniel Huebsch, explained.

Dr. Huebsch noted that bio-engineered micro-scale heart tissues created by means of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) resemble immature embryonic tissues rather than adult heart tissues; hence, testing drugs on it may not produce the best results due to its unpredictability. However, his research team's new method addressed the issue and lowered the risks by stimulating the immature cells to develop and resemble adult heart tissues.

Additionally, the new method also lowers the number of cells needed to reproduce the heart muscles, which in turn, makes it cheaper and more efficient. This would now allow doctors to test drugs on the bio-engineered heart muscles and find the treatment that would provide the best results for specific patients.

"We think that the micro heart muscle will provide a superior resource for conducting research and developing therapies for heart disease," Dr. Bruce Conklin said. Dr. Conklin is a senior investigator at Gladstone and a senior author of the research.

Watch the short video below to find out how the micro heart muscles look.

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