These Miniature Human Heart Organoids Could Help Solve the Organ Transplant Crisis

If we could artificially grow a real working organ with the complexity of a lung or heart outside of a lab and customize it to fit someone’s own tissue, we could. turn around that organ transplant crisis kills 17 people in the US every day.

One breakthrough that has brought us closer to this reality is the creation of miniature organs, called organoids, similar to the brain, kidney, lung, stomach, liver and complex tissues. These organoids aren’t just a hopeful, futuristic solution to organ shortages or transplant rejection – scientists are using them to understand how people and diseases develop.

But a challenge to this work is seeing exactly what’s going on inside the organoid — how its cells work and interact with each other, how they respond to new stimuli like drugs or hormones. growth — without being invasive or damaging.

In a study published this week in the magazine Biosensors and bioelectricity, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and Michigan State University in East Lansing have developed organic substances in living hearts that can beat and contract like a normal human heart. They tracked the growth of a cardiac organoid using a new imaging device called optical circuit tomography (OCT)—this could give scientists a behind-the-scenes look. three-dimensional view of an organoid as it develops and responds to its environment, and can help lead to new insights that could advance the pursuit of developing artificial organs.

Chao Zhou, biomedical engineer at WUSTL and co-author of the study, told the Daily Beast: “You can think of OCT as an optical analogy to ultrasound. In ultrasound, a transducer sends a beam of sound waves into the body. Any sound waves reflected back create the image you see on the screen. Similar to OCT, Zhou said, near-infrared light waves hit the growing orbit, and a nearby detector collects the reflected waves and draws images from them.

Because near-infrared light waves are much shorter than sound waves, the technique allows researchers to see the tiniest, very minute details of an organoid down to a thousandth of a millimeter.

Zhou and his colleagues were able to watch a heart organoid grow from a small cluster of stem cells into a larger blob that forms connecting chambers and valves, and even contracts spontaneously like a heart. within a few days.

There are still some minor designs that need to be worked out to make OCT a valuable tool for scientists working in the field of tissue engineering. Because the OCT device is located outside the incubator, where the growing organics are stored, the researchers had to move them back and forth between the OCT device and the incubator.

“When we visualized the organoids outside of the incubator, they were not in their natural environment, and many functions can change as you change the environment,” says Zhou. In the future, the team hopes to create a kind of two-in-one structure that integrates the OCT into an incubator. This cuts out the manual work and determines how often scientists can monitor an organoid, whether hourly or minutely versus daily intervals.

OCT has been used to study cancer using tumor organoids, Zhou said. But improving monitoring frequency would be very useful in studying the effects of a drug on organoids, allowing scientists to see in real time whether cancer drug candidates or substances such as alcohol are present. How does it affect tissues? Getting real-time information will even help track when abnormalities appear during embryo or organ development.

And when it comes to creating organs for transplant, Zhou and Ming hope OCT can help scientists overcome the technological limitations that hinder a broader understanding of all the factors that shape the body. into the function and three-dimensional structure of organs such as the heart.

Yixuan Ming, lead author of the study, told The Daily Beast: “We don’t really understand how the human heart forms from embryo to adult, for example. He added that the heart the researchers created from stem cells resembled a fetal heart more than an adult heart.

It will be a long time before we see organoids reach their potential to solve diseases, chronic organ shortages, or help transplant patients grow their own organs. But OCT can improve our understanding of the human body enough that the time it takes to get there is greatly reduced. These Miniature Human Heart Organoids Could Help Solve the Organ Transplant Crisis

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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