Scientists developed a system that predicts the functionality of an artificial heart

Researchers from Cima Universidad de Navarra have designed a computational model that, for the first time, can simulate the behavior of artificial cardiac tissue. This novel tool will make it possible to accelerate the manufacture of human myocardium in the laboratory

From left to right: Manuel Mazo, Olalla Iglesias, María Flandes Iparraguirre and María del Pilar Montero Calle.

October 25, 2022

Researchers at Cima Universidad de Navarra have developed a system that, for the first time, can predict the behavior of cardiac tissue manufactured in the laboratory. This system is a novel in silico tool, i.e., a design that allows modeling, simulating, and visualizing the evolution and functionality of bio-fabricated cardiac tissue by computer. This study represents a breakthrough in constructing computational models to accelerate the fabrication of human myocardium in the laboratory

Biofabrication, one of the leading scientific journals on bioengineering and biomaterials, publishes the results of this research in its latest issue. The Clínica Universidad de Navarra, the Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Ingeniería de Aragón, the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, the University of Western Australia, and the University College of London have collaborated in the study. 

A giant leap forward in cardiac tissue engineering

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, and myocardial-related complications are among the principal reasons for drug withdrawal, both in the clinic and in the drug development process. Regenerative medicine seeks to address this problem by advancing the manufacture of human cardiac tissue in the laboratory. The aim is to understand what causes damage to the heart and to develop more specific drugs and new therapies for its treatment. 

"Evaluating all the variables that affect the development of each fabricated tissue requires a great deal of time and resources. Thus, our goal in this work was to design a predictive tool based on biological and mechanical information to speed up this process," explains Manuel Mazo. Mazo is a researcher in the Regenerative Medicine Program at Cima and the principal investigator of the work.

To design this novel tool, the researchers generated human cardiac mini-tissues with different functional characteristics to introduce this information into computer simulations. "By introducing the biological information collected into novel computational simulations, our work sets the path for advancing the development of in silico tools to predict the evolution of bio-fabricated cardiac tissue after its generation. It also plots the route towards more accurate and biomimetic tissue fabrication," concludes Mazo.

This work is part of the Cima and Clínica Universidad de Navarra's European projects in regenerative medicine BRAVƎ (#874827), CARDIOPATCH (SOE4/P1/E1063) and POCTEFA LG-MED (EFA313/19). In addition, it has been supported by the Centers for Biomedical Research in Cancer Network (CIBERONC), Bioengineering, Biomaterials, and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN), and Cardiovascular Diseases (CIBER-CV). In turn, it has received funding from the Ministry of Science and Innovation (CARDIOPRINT PLEC2021-008127), the Carlos III Health Institute (co-financed with FEDER funds), the Advanced Therapies Network (TERAV) and the Government of Navarra, among other institutions.