Breakthrough results in early human heart development from stem cells have been achieved by the scientists at the University of California, Berkeley in association with researchers at the Gladstone Institute. The results of the experiment have been published in the Journal of Nature Communications. A template for growing beating cardiac tissue from stem cells has been developed; thus, creating a system that could serve as a model for early heart development and a drug-screening tool to make pregnancies safer. Biochemical and biophysical cues were used by researchers to prompt stem cells to differentiate and self-organize into micron-scale cardiac tissue, including micro chambers.
Kevin Healy, a UC Berkeley professor of bioengineering, and a co-senior author of the study said that it is the first example illustrating the process of a developing human heart chamber in vitro. He is positive about this technology and is hopeful that it would help in quickly screen for drugs that are likely to generate cardiac birth defects, and thereby help doctors in pointing out the drugs that can be potentially dangerous during pregnancy.
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