Australian researchers improve models of heart, advance goal of repairing damage

An Australian team of researchers has succeeded in introducing a vascular system into tiny living and beating model human heart muscles, an achievement which it’s hoped will accelerate progress toward the ultimate goal of repairing damage from heart disease.

The research was led by QIMR Berghofer in Australia, in collaboration with Melbourne node of reNEW – the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine – based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, including Professor Enzo Porrello and Dr Holly Voges.

The findings, published in the prestigious journal Cell Reports, have also for the first time revealed the central role the vascular system plays in causing inflammation-driven injury of the heart muscle, which is important for several diseases that can cause heart injury including COVID-19.

The new vascularised tiny heart muscles, or organoids, closely mimic the human heart and will allow much more accurate testing of new drugs to treat disease and inflammation, and take scientists a step closer to the holy grail of repairing heart tissue.

“Our new system of producing vascularised cardiac organoids will really give us an advantage because we’ll be able to progress the search for new treatments much more quickly,” said lead researcher Professor James Hudson, who heads QIMR Berghofer’s Cardiac Bioengineering Research Group.

Read QIMR Berghofer’s full news report here.

Reprogrammed neurons may fool you!

Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby, from reNEW Copenhagen, has published the paper Forced LMX1A expression induces dorsal neural fates and disrupts patterning of human embryonic stem cells into ventral midbrain dopaminergic neurons, in Stem Cell Reports.