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A new and physiologically relevant heart model for testing supplements and exercise in vitro

   School of Science & Technology

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  Dr L Santos  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Cardiomyocytes (heart cells) differentiated from human pluripotent stem cells (CM-hPSCs) show great potential in biotechnology applications like nutraceuticals, drug safety and disease modelling. However, CM-hPSCs are functionally immature (exhibit an embryonic phenotype rather than an adult one), and this has been hampering much-needed advances in cardiac biotechnology and ultimately delaying health benefits to patients. 

Therefore, several approaches have been attempted to improve CM-hPSCs maturation. E.g., a recent study successfully enhanced cardiac microtissue maturation after culturing CM-hPSCs with endothelial cells (blood vessels cells) and fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) in 3D; however, the authors did not include the mechanical forces typically found in the heart like the sinus rhythm. To overcome this gap and accelerate patient benefits, this study will generate a more advanced and mature heart model based on CM-hPSCs by integrating the sinus rhythm of the heart as the cells grow. This will be achieved by culturing the CM-hPSCs in a computer-controlled state-of-the-art bioreactor. 

Discoveries from this study should accelerate discoveries in the areas of nutrition and exercise in cardiovascular health, metabolism, drug safety, disease modelling, and cardiac development. In addition, the developed heart model is expected to replace the use of animals in scientific research contributing to the 3Rs principles.  

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