Heart-on-a-chip taught to shrink. What is it and why is it important?

Agree, it would be strange if all of theirpharmacological companies and groups of scientists immediately tested the results in humans. In this case, the number of deaths would be simply prohibitive. It is to ensure that this does not happen, scientists create the so-called organs-on-a-chip. In fact, these are organs reduced to a miniature state connected to electronic circuits. But usually it was just a "cluster" of cells. Now scientists are trying to make these bodies behave the same as real ones. And recently, when developing a heart-on-chip, they literally made him beat.

What is a heart-on-a-chip

In its structure, the heart-on-chip representsa three-dimensional heart structure grown from stem cells with all the cells inherent in its physiological structure. In a new experiment, scientists focused on simulating the work of the myocardium (heart muscle), because of which there are contractions of the heart and the release of blood into the bloodstream. In simple words, the contraction of the heart muscle consists of successive periods of contraction and relaxation. In the process of excitement, for the contraction of the heart, calcium ions exit from the special channels (why this is important, we will explain a little later).

This is interesting: a human heart can be taught to work without oxygen.

Existing models to datecontained only myocardial cells, unable to contract. That is, calcium ions can be said to be “not taken into account” in these models. And if we take into account the fact that the heart-on-a-chip is used, as a rule, for testing medicines, then such a “miscalculation” practically nullifies all the efforts of scientists to grow an artificial organ.

This is what organ-on-a-chip looks like

In a new study, a group of scientists underthe leadership of Ruzbeh Ashar-Sobbi managed to force the artificially grown myocardium to contract. In order to achieve this effect, the researchers conducted regular courses of tissue electrostimulation for 6 weeks, as a result of which, at the 7th week of the study, the electric potential of heart cells increased significantly, which led to the fact that even in response to the slightest exposure to electric current, the heart on-chip showed a similar rhythm of contractions, which is inherent in the real heart, which beats in the chest in each of us.

Why is it necessary

Since scientists were able to simulate the work of livinghearts, it means that calcium ions, which we already mentioned earlier, took part in his work. The fact is that many drugs for the treatment of heart disease have cardiotoxicity, not least from the fact that they negatively affect calcium ions in the myocardium. In this way, it will be much more effective to test new drugs that could potentially save more than one hundred human lives.

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