A new type of scaffold for the engineering of rat heart tissue is published in Nature Materials this week. Researchers show that the ‘accordion-like’ three-dimensional structure allows the heart cells to grow and orient in certain directions and, although preliminary, may overcome many of the structural?mechanical limitations experienced in previous cardiac tissue engineering models.
The heart is a complex organ comprising multi-layered tissue, with the ability to pump blood around the body. The creation of materials to engineer heart muscle tissue has proven challenging. Lisa Freed and colleagues’ scaffold closely matches the mechanical properties of rat heart tissue, and allows the induction of heart-cell contractility following stimulation with an electric field. Their scaffold is engineered from bilaminar scaffolds with three-dimensional interconnected pore networks, creating an accordion-like honeycomb structure. Although they have not demonstrated their materials in vivo, the team argues that these accordion-like structural scaffolds pave the way towards further integration of tissue-specialized scaffolds into tissue engineering strategies.