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Human Heart On a Chip

heart_on_a_chipThe University of California at Berkeley has created a “heart-on-a-chip”. Researchers started with human pluripotent embryonic stem cells. This type of stem cell can morph into almost any kind of tissue cells in the body. In this case, cardiac cells were produced and placed in a one-inch silicone housing. The cells began to beat on their own at a normal rate of 55 to 80 beats per minute. This amazing development allows researchers to test the effect of various drugs on heart tissue. The initial tests showed that drugs designed to raise or lower heart rate, caused the heart on the chip to beat faster or slower. Eventually, the new development may replace the use of animals to test the safety of new drugs.