Posted on Jul 18, 2017, 9 a.m.
This breakthrough may make it easier to confirm basic science findings and test promising new heart drugs for safety and efficacy.
This is one of the stories you might expect to see in the checkout line at the supermarket in the National Enquirer or another weekly publication. It would be right next to “Doctor in the former Soviet Union’s national medical research institute transplants human brain into Siberian Tiger". However, this information comes from the American Heart Association, and human cells are being introduced into a rat, and not a Siberian Tiger.
Scientists and heart specialists have been searching for a way to conduct more accurate research on hearts. While testing can be performed on animals directly, the results on a human heart are strongly desired. By introducing human cells into the matrix of a rat heart, a miniature heart can be created. The Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2017 Scientific Sessions recently discovered this phenomenal research and hope to confirm previous science as well as test drugs more effectively and safely.
Previously the Langendorff method has been used to remove the animal's heart so that fluid can be introduced through the aorta to the extended artery network. A solution is delivered that strips away cells from the rat heart, which is necessary before the human cells can be introduced.
This recent study was developed to create a more accurate model of the human heart. The 4-Flow cannulation technique was used. This method introduces the fluid into both the artery and vein networks of the heart. Like the previous methods, the rat cells are stripped, but this technique keeps the heart lining in tact. This allows the heart to repopulate the human cells. By using this superior method, scientists are able to preserve the hearts circulation to maintain normal flow and stimulate the expansion of the heart chambers.
The biggest problem faced when introducing new drugs to the market is presenting accurate and realistic results. Most tests before market release, are in early phases and have only been tested on animals. With differences in anatomy and metabolism, the animals will often not have the same reactions to the drug as a human. The attraction to this new method and research is that now the animals resemble humans a little more. The goal being that drug tests will be more accurate in trial phases.
American Heart Association. “Miniature human hearts created from rat hearts”