PARIS – Scientists said Tuesday they had used stem cells to grow human heart tissue that contracted spontaneously in a petri dish — marking progress in the quest to manufacture transplant organs.
A team from the University of Pittsburgh used induced pluripotent stem cells generated from human skin cells to create precursor heart cells called MCPs. Induced pluripotent stem cells are mature human cells “reprogrammed” into a versatile, primitive state from which they can be prompted to develop into any kind of cell of the body.
The primitive heart cells created in this way were attached to a mouse heart “scaffold” from which the researchers had removed all mouse heart cells, they said. The scaffold is a network of nonliving tissue composed of proteins and carbohydrates to which cells adhere and grow on. Placed on the 3-D scaffold, the precursor cells grew and developed into heart muscle, and after 20 days of blood supply the reconstructed mouse organ “began contracting again at the rate of 40 to 50 beats per minute,” a University of Pittsburgh statement said.