Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Credit: Michael Tenaglia, Michael T Photography & Design

Milica Radisic, 32

Patching damaged hearts

University of Toronto

The heart has a limited capacity to generate new cells on its own, making it hard to heal after injury. Scientists have experimented with injecting stem cells into the heart, but they have found it difficult to predict how the cells will behave, and they've had little success in coaxing cells to make functional tissue. To better anticipate which cell types may help heal hearts, bioengineer Milica Radisic has used embryonic stem cells to create a small patch that mimics human heart tissue.

Radisic grew her first heart patches using cells from the hearts of newborn rats. But coaxing the cells to form functioning heart tissue proved challenging; established tissue-engineering techniques didn't work. Radisic hit upon the idea of applying a small electric field to the cardiac cells, similar to the one formed as the heart develops in an embryo. This spurred the cells to connect in patterns that resembled those of actual heart tissue.

Radisic, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, is now using the same technique to grow heart patches derived from human embryonic stem cells. The patches respond to various stimuli as real heart muscle would, providing a way to more accurately test the potential of different cell lines and new drugs. Radisic is now adding various lines of stem cells to the engineered patches to see which--if any--multiply and form functioning heart tissue; her goal is to find cells that are useful in repairing muscle damaged by a heart attack or by high blood pressure. She also aims to help researchers find treatments for heart damage associated with diabetes by designing a patch that simulates the heart tissue of a person with that disease. --Jennifer Chu

2008 TR35 Winners

Martin Burke

Molecular diversity

Christopher Chang

Probing chemical reactions in the body

Michelle Chang

Designing microbes to make fuels and drugs

Donhee Ham

Portable nuclear magnetic resonance

Konrad Hochedlinger (video)

Turning adult cells into stem cells

Milica Radisic

Patching damaged hearts

Bilal Shafi (video)

Preventing congestive heart failure

Joo Chuan Tong

My vision: Personalized vaccines

Advertisement

More Innovators Under 35: