Scientists have created miniature functional human hearts in the lab that may be used to test safety and efficacy of potential new drugs to treat cardiac diseases. Researchers from AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company in Sweden, grew human heart cells in the matrix of a whole rat heart to make the mini organ. They delivered solutions that strip away cells from the rat heart while preserving the lining matrix of the whole heart to repopulate with human cells, researchers said. The remaining 'scaffold' is the framework of the heart - consisting of collagen and other proteins. The vessels were intact, the valves working and the four chamber structure of the heart was maintained, and the organ was then repopulated with human cells. The team was able to preserve the blood circulation within the entire heart to maintain the normal flow and in addition to stimulate the mechanical expansion heart chambers. The miniature hearts will make it easier to test potential new drugs for safety and efficacy, researchers said. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2017 Scientific Sessions.
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