Researchers at the University Montreal have developed a “heart-on-a-chip” device that promises to improve the understanding of cardiovascular disease and help in the development of new precision treatments.

The device, known as a ‘heart-on-a-chip’, was made with a special bio-ink using 3D bioprinting technology. It promises to promote a deeper understanding of the individual nature of heart disease and enable the development and accurate assessment of new treatments in an automated, high-throughput process.

This bioink mirrors the electrical activity, mechanical properties, and physiology of a human heart. The bioink is based on photocrosslinkable natural polymers Gelatine methacryloyl (GelMA) and Alginate methacrylate (AlgMA), along with electroconductive reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanomaterials. This unique formulation supports a high level of cardiac cell viability, proliferation, spreading, elongation, and alignment, enabling the ‘heart on a chip’ devices to accurately reflect real human heart function.

Employing a range of cell types, including cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts, the team achieved optimal viability, proliferation, and alignment in their cardiac devices, crucial for replicating human heart function accurately.

In contrast to traditional, non-scalable methods, the team’s automated 3D bioprinting process offers industrial-scale production potential, paving the way for widespread adoption in the medical sector.

One of the exciting applications of the ‘heart on a chip’ is its potential use in drug discovery and testing. By providing a more accurate representation of the human heart’s physiology, these devices can streamline the process of drug development. It also allows for the comparison of healthy and diseased heart cells, providing a solid foundation for developing cardiac pathology models. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized the potential of these devices, suggesting they could replace traditional animal testing, given the robustness of the data they generate.

Article written by ALEX TYRER-JONES



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