July 17, 2024

Engineered Human Heart Tissue Offers Insight into Tachycardia Mechanics

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new model of stem cell-derived heart tissue to study the mechanics of tachycardia, a condition characterized by rapid heart rates that can lead to cardiomyopathy. Tachycardia is commonly underdiagnosed, as an increased heart rate is a symptom of various heart diseases. By using engineered heart cells from human stem cells, the researchers were able to gain a better understanding of how the heart functions when beating too quickly.

The study, led by Dr. Joseph Wu, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, examined tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently. By growing over 400 heart tissue samples from stem cells, the team was able to observe how heart cells function when exposed to tachycardia. The process of creating engineered heart tissue is complex and time-consuming, taking over four years to complete.

During the experiment, the researchers electrically stimulated the heart cells in a 3D tissue model, inducing tachycardia. They found that the cells’ ability to contract continuously declined to about 50% of normal function after five days of stimulation. However, when the electrical stimulation was stopped, the cells made a full recovery within five days. This aligns with previous knowledge that tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy is mostly reversible, with normal heart tissue function returning when heart rate slows down.

In another part of the study, the researchers supplemented the heart tissues with NAD, a molecule that supports energy reactions, after inducing tachycardia. They observed that the supplemented tissues recovered more rapidly, with 83% of their original function restored within the first day. This finding suggests that supplementing patients with NAD could accelerate their recovery from tachycardia.

To validate their results, the team compared the engineered heart tissues with clinical human data and canine model data. They found that the engineered heart tissues closely mimicked real human hearts, demonstrating the accuracy and effectiveness of their model.

The research not only provides valuable insight into tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy but also highlights the importance of developing new methods to model diseases. With the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 removing the requirement for animal testing before human drug trials, there is an increasing need for non-animal models to complement existing research. This study showcases the potential of a universal non-animal model for studying complex cardiac conditions and testing potential therapeutics.

Moving forward, the researchers believe that supplementing patients with NAD through off-the-shelf supplements or IV injections could restore the chemical balance and accelerate recovery from tachycardia. Further studies are needed to explore the efficacy and safety of this approach, but it holds promise for improving the treatment of tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy and potentially other cardiac conditions.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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