For the first time ever, scientists have made a miniature, three-dimensional heart-like organ from stem cells alone. In the video above you will see the 0.5mm-wide heart beating away, with its ventricle-like structure (in pink) rising up out of the organ’s side. Scientists have made micro hearts before, but only by using a donor’s collagen structure matrix and transplanting new heart cells, or by using a 3D printer. This groundbreaking new technique is revolutionary for two reasons. First, it opens the door to a future where full-size hearts can be grown in a lab for replacement. Second, these micro hearts are valuable in their own right for allowing researchers to test which chemicals and drugs would cause heart defects in fetuses (i.e. the team has already proven this technique by testing thalidomide which, of course, caused defects). Researchers are already busy expanding this field to grow other micro organs, such as kidneys, breasts, eyeballs, mini brains, and livers, to test for other potential defect-causing chemicals in utero.
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