Functional Human Hearts Generated From Skin Cells

Doctors are constantly being helped by their friends in the technology industry, from 3D printing ears to making veins in a cotton candy machine, people are now able to start replacing damaged parts of themselves with items created from their genetic make up. This technology may have gone one step further with a research group claiming to have created functional human hearts.

The new technique could see people avoiding waiting lists and the risk of their immune system rejecting the new organ. With a low risk of an immune response, the new technique could see a 100% acceptance amongst transplants.

By using skin cells from a patient, the team were able to generate the cardiac muscles found in a heart. In order to turn it into a transplantable heart it needed a structure, something that would take time to develop. Using 73 donor hearts that were considered unsuitable for transplantation, the team removed the living cells leaving only the neutral network required for the heart.

With the ability to replace body parts with artificially grown organs appearing quicker and quicker, it won’t be long before we can repair defects in body parts and ensure that people who suffer injuries to their organs can repair them as easily as a cut on their arm.

Walking Bio-Bots Powered By Muscles Becoming a Reality

First of all, a ‘bio-bot’ is a machine which uses synthetic 3D-printed material with biological muscle tissue. Having stated the latter, researchers from the University of Illinois have apparently developed the so-called bio-bots in question, taking us one step further into the future of technological advancements.

Some might wonder how the bio-bots work and what is so special about them. The answer lies in the muscle fibers, having them spiked with electricity in order to contract. The muscles are attached to flexible 3D-printed skeleton frameworks, resulting in bending the skeleton when the muscles contract and reverting back to its original state when they relax. This in the end produces movement, combining biological and synthetic material to achieve such an action, thus the name ‘bio-bot’.

It is said that researchers have been working on similar projects since 2012. At that time, a walking bio-bot prototype used rat heart cells in order to provide motion. However, the researchers found out that the rat cells were not responding well to the induced electricity and couldn’t control when they fired. However, it appears that the ‘new version’ has solved this problem.

“Skeletal muscles cells are very attractive because you can pace them using external signals,” head researcher Rashid Bashir said. “We want to have different options that could be used by engineers to design these things.”

The group of researchers from Illinois sees bio-bots potentially useful for surgical aids and drug delivery vehicles. The group also emphasized that, having their own neurons, they could even recognize and respond to light and chemical stimuli. The group has apparently published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which is a good place to get more details about the bio-bots in question.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The University of Illinois and Nature World News