New miniature heart could help speed heart disease cures
The project is part of CELL-MET, a multi-institutional National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center in Cellular Metamaterials that's led by BU. The center's goal is to regenerate diseased human heart tissue, building a community of scientists and industry experts to test new drugs and create artificial implantable patches for hearts damaged by heart attacks or disease.

Researchers built a miniature replica of a heart chamber from a combination of nanoengineered parts and human heart tissue. There are no springs or external power sources—like the real thing, it just beats by itself, driven by the live heart tissue grown from stem cells. The device could give researchers a more accurate view of how the organ works, allowing them to track how the heart grows in the embryo, study the impact of disease, and test the potential effectiveness and side effects of new treatments—all at zero risk to patients and without leaving a lab.

According to the researchers, the device could eventually speed up the drug development process, making it faster and cheaper. Instead of spending millions—and possibly decades—moving a medicinal drug through the development pipeline only to see it fall at the final hurdle when tested in people, researchers could use the miniPUMP at the outset to better predict success or failure.