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Engineering a living human Mini-heart and a swimming Bio-robot

Project description

Building a human mini-heart in the lab

Making our own hearts is just a heartbeat away, literally. Engineers are joining forces with biologists to make biological heart-robots. The EU-funded BioRobot-MiniHeart project is developing a vascularised beating mini-heart. In parallel, the team is creating a self-propulsion swimming bio-robot that is made by assembling human cardiac cells into 3D tissue structures. To do this, they used sacrificial molding and high-resolution 3D bioprinting. The mini-heart and the bio-robot will provide scientists with a more realistic human cardiac model in vitro and an appropriate tool to assess cardiotoxicants' presence in the environment. This innovation is expected to help speed up development of heart disease cures.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the N1 cause of death worldwide despite the significant efforts of academia and pharmaceutical industry to understand the different underlying causes of CVD. They have been hampered by the lack of proper human cardiac models as the animal models have different physiology and gene expression from the human situation and the flat cell culture in vitro models are not capable of producing pumping motion, which is the main function of the heart. Furthermore, pesticides toxicity and risk for human health are controlled at a European level through a well-developed regulatory network, however, cardiotoxicity is not described as a separate hazard class while it can have long-term cardiovascular complications. Here we propose to make better predicative in vitro cardiac models by making a vascularized beating mini-heart and a self-propulsion swimming bio-robot made by assembling human cardiac cells into 3D tissue structures using sacrificial molding and high-resolution 3D bio-printing. The mini-heart and the bio-robot will enable the scientific community to have a more realistic human cardiac model in vitro and a proper tool to assess the presence of cardiotoxicants in the environment. This work will be done in a consortium of four parties with the necessary expertise, ranging from heart development, human pluripotent stem cells, 3D bioprinting, tissue engineering and biosensing, to bring these engineered living tissues to reality.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 101 000,00
7522 NB Enschede

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Oost-Nederland Overijssel Twente
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 101 000,00

Participants (4)