Miniature Microchip Heart Unveiled by Israeli Researchers

Miniature Microchip Heart Unveiled by Israeli Researchers

A groundbreaking achievement in cardiovascular research has been unveiled by Israeli scientists, potentially revolutionizing the field and offering an ethical alternative to animal testing. Their remarkable work was detailed in a paper published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

The innovation centers around a microchip-based miniature human heart model, no larger than a grain of rice. Termed “multi-chambered self-paced vascularized human cardiac organoids formed under anisotropic stress,” this miniature organ-on-a-chip emulates the complexities of the human heart. The pioneering team, led by Professor Yaakov Nahmias from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, alongside first author Mohammad Ghosheh, and collaborators from Tissue Dynamics Ltd. and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, achieved this feat.

Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) were meticulously employed to construct this replica of the heart. The model faithfully replicates the heart’s structure and functions, complete with multiple chambers, pacemaker clusters, an epicardial membrane, and an endocardial lining. Furthermore, the organ-on-a-chip boasts the capability to provide real-time data on oxygen consumption, extracellular field potential, and cardiac contraction. This technological marvel offers scientists unparalleled insights into heart function and disease. Notably, the heart model has even discerned a novel form of cardiac arrhythmia, distinct from those observed in conventional animal models.

The implications of this development are profound, particularly in the pharmaceutical realm. The miniature heart model has the potential to reshape drug testing practices by offering a platform to precisely study the effects of pharmaceutical compounds on the human heart, bypassing the need for animal testing. An illustrative case involved testing the chemotherapeutic drug mitoxantrone, commonly utilized to treat leukemia and multiple sclerosis, on this model.

Summing up their remarkable achievement, the Israeli research team conveyed in a press release that this sophisticated miniature human heart model could potentially transform drug testing methodologies, propel our comprehension of cardiovascular diseases, and ultimately contribute to a healthier and more ethical future.

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