Indian-origin researcher helps develop mini-heart on microchip.

An Indian-origin scientist with the University of California at Berkeley was involved in growing a viable, pulsating heart on a microchip to improve drug screening.
It is the latest human organ, after a lung, a liver and a piece of intestine, replicated under laboratory environment. With the help of this tissue created from stem cells, researchers can predict if a certain medicine will have an adverse effect or how much dosage a patient needs. This method, if works, will replace animal models that do not mimic human responses, according to the researchers.
The study, which was published by the journal Scientific Reports, was carried out at the laboratory of bioengineering of professor Kevin Healy. The tiny heart, which according to Mathur is hardly the width of a human hair, was created with human-induced pluripotent stem cells that can form many different types of tissues. These cells, once tricked into forming heart tissue, were grown around a special silicon microchip with cell and media channels that mimicked the heart's blood vessels. Feeding this bionic heart a mix of nutrients to keep it alive, researchers then could make the heart beat and work for up to a month. "We were able to run multiple tests during this period, so we proved that this can be a viable solution to replace animal models," Mathur said. "It began beating only 24 hours after being developed at a normal rate of 50-80 beats per minute."
"Doctors will be able to predict how certain drugs react on specific patients, thus preventing many illnesses and loss of valuable time," Mathur said, adding that "I see this happening in five years in most of the doctor's offices."