Email Print Share
Science Nation banner

October 2, 2017

Bioengineering infant heart patches with the baby's own heart cells

Regenerative approach aims to provide full heart function to infants, without need for lifelong operations

Bioengineer Jeff Jacot is working on an idea that could transform the medical approach to infants with complex and sometimes fatal heart defects. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Jacot and his team at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are pioneering new techniques in regenerative medicine, including a heart patch made of an infant's own tissue that would repair the defect and then grow right along with the baby.

The team is using a process called electrospinning to make the patches in the lab. The researchers infuse a 'scaffold' with stem cells that are harvested from the baby, even before it's born. They've already shown that they can grow blood vessels and the blood supply needed for heart tissue, and recently, they also made cells from amniotic fluid into beating heart cells.

The research in this episode is supported by NSF award #1547838, Biomanufacturing: Cell Differentiation Bioreactor for Cardiac Tissue Engineering. The award was made through NSF's Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) funding mechanism.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Kate Tobin, Science Nation Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.