Tiny human hearts that beat of their own accord being grown by scientists
Made from stem cells, the miniature hearts are just 1mm in diameter.
Tiny human hearts that beat of their own accord are being grown by scientists at Abertay University in Scotland.
They have been developed specifically to find a cure for heart hypertrophy - a form of heart disease that can lead to sudden death.
Made from stem cells, the miniature hearts are just 0.04 inches (one millimetre) in diameter and contract at around 30 beats per minute.
Although healthy to begin with, the scientists are using chemicals to simulate the physiological conditions that will make them become hypertrophic - enlarged - due to abnormal growth of the cells that make up the heart.
Once diseased, the hearts are then treated with newly developed medications to see if they can prevent the damage from occurring.
'Although human hearts have been grown in labs before, this is the first time it has ever been possible to induce disease in them,' said Professor Nikolai Zhelev, who is leading the research.
'Heart hypertrophy can be hereditary, can be caused by diseases such as diabetes, or can be caused by doing too much strenuous exercise.
'The disease causes the heart muscle to thicken and stiffen, and makes it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body.
'In some people, a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm will develop, and this is the most common cause of sudden death in young people.
‘Although there are treatments, these only help to control the symptoms, and there is no known cure at the moment.’