Despite considerable research efforts, cardiovascular diseases still constitute a major cause of death. Novel biological breakthroughs such as the emergence of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and the generation of engineered cardiac tissue models offer immense potential for pharmaceutical R&D as well as precision medicine. Current model systems, however, require large amounts of cells and rely on complex cell injection protocols, hampering the adoption of the technologies and fulfillment of their promises.
We have developed a centrifugal Heart‑on‑Chip (HoC) platform with the potential to be a widely‑applicable, user‑friendly tool. The platform allows for a parallelized generation of cardiac µ‑tissues, mimicking a minimal functional unit of the heart muscle. It is based on simple centrifugation steps utilizing basic infrastructure present in all cell culture laboratories. The HoC provides a physiologically relevant in vitro model which can be utilized for drug testing or disease modelling. In the next project stage, we will integrate read‑out capabilities for the in situ determination of contractile forces and electrophysiological parameters as well as introduce external stimuli to improve tissue maturation.
All in all, the novel centrifugal HoC represents a fit-for‑purpose system which can be used by any laboratory and tailored for each specific application. This downscaled physiological model system offers unprecedented opportunities in cardiovascular research harnessing the true potential of iPSC technology.