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Centre de recherche
Wednesday, February 14 2024

Heart disease: developing precision treatments using 3D printing

Heart Month has arrived, and the Centre de recherche Azrieli du CHU Sainte-Justine is proud to present a study that promises to advance our understanding of cardiovascular disease and the development of new precision treatments.

Montréal, February 14, 2024 – Researcher Houman Savoji and PhD student Seyed Ali Mousavi from Centre de recherche Azrieli du CHU Sainte-Justine have just developed a device that accurately simulates the electrical activity, mechanics and physiology of a human heart. This heart-on-a-chip was 3D-printed using a bioink specially developed by the team. The device could not only help us better understand the specific nature of individual cases of heart disease, but also enable us to develop new treatments and accurately assess their efficacy. This innovative research was published in Applied Materials Today.

A heart-on-a-chip to analyze heart cell activity


Since the heart is a vital organ, there’s obviously no way to directly analyze its activity at the cellular level. That’s why we may use a heart-on-a-chip, a sort of ring made up of the patient’s own cells, mimicking as closely as possible the complexity of the human heart. However, these devices are usually produced individually in laboratories in a non-standardized way. “Our research has made it possible to combine 3D bioprinting technology to produce standard hearts-on-chips much more quickly,” said a delighted Houman Savoji, who is also a professor at Université de Montréal. “What’s more, our results show that printed devices perform better than those produced by hand.” 

The ring-shaped devices are printed with a bioink containing patient stem cells. Both the device and the bioink were fully developed by the team. “We have formulated a bioink that best reproduces the properties of the heart, such as elasticity and electrical conductivity, and has all the properties required for 3D printing,” explained Seyed Ali Mousavi, a student at Université de Montréal’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering and first author of the study.

“Very promising” for the development of new therapies

The development of this heart-on-a-chip using 3D bioprinting opens up new prospects for the identification of new drugs. “The next step will be to compare healthy and diseased heart cells to develop solid cardiac pathology models,” added the PhD student. “That will also let us safely and accurately test the effect of new therapeutic molecules on cells.” 

The ultimate goal is to be able to use the cells of each patient being followed in cardiology to model their heart disease and validate the efficacy of treatments available for their condition. In other words, this device could help guide treatment decisions by identifying the most effective treatment in each case, with the fewest side effects. This is extremely promising for the development of true precision cardiology!

About the study

The article "Development of photocrosslinkable bioinks with improved electromechanical properties for 3D bioprinting of cardiac BioRings" was published in February 2024 by Ali Mousavi, … Gregor Andelfinger et Houman Savoji in Applied Materials Today. The project was funded by Institut TransMedTech. Seyed Ali Mousavi is also the recipient of a doctoral research grant from Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS).

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Updated on 2/9/2024
Created on 2/7/2024
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