Heart on a Chip: Study Describes 3D-printed Prototype

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In the world of tissue engineering, micro-structured systems provide miniaturized platforms to study the behavior of macromolecular systems – such as tissues and organs – in ways which afford unparalleled control over phenomena that are integral to our understanding of the basis of various diseases.

And while de novo tissue and organ assembly is one of the ultimate frontiers of tissue engineering, microstructured systems that recapitulate some of that behavior have made significant leaps with the rapid advances of 3D printing and other 3D assembly technologies.

One such technological breakthrough came with the publication of a new prototype of a 3D-printed cardiac microphysiological device to study drug responses as a mimic of a real cardiac tissue.

The paper came from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University – Dr. Kevin Parker and colleagues authored the study, which was published in Nature Materials last month.


Image from video by Lind and Busbee, et al. (2016).


The device is based on the multilaterally printed soft materials integrated with microsensors that self-assembly of microfilament-guided physio-mimetic laminar cardiac tissues. These devices have shown to be able to demonstrate contraction and stretching.

The authors demonstrated contraction of hiPS-CMs tissues in the device, and used it to study drug responses.

As a prototype, the device is the first demonstration of such functionality obtained on a chip, and while significant more work needs to be done to add more functionality and versatility to the level of complexity of the device’s current capabilities, it is a remarkable leap forward not only for engineering and 3D printing, but also human health.

You can read the paper here.

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