Scientists have developed man-made blood vessels within previously engineered heart muscle tissue.
Trials of the new tissue have revealed a significant improvement in heart function in live models, particularly in the level of vascularisation throughout the implanted sections.
The study, published in the journal Artificial Organs, reveals that researchers from the University of Michigan in the US were successful in their attempt to develop new treatment options.
"The long-term goal of cardiac tissue engineering is to generate functional cardiac muscle in vitro," stated lead researcher Dr Ravi Birla.
He added: "Work in this area would lead to the formation of functional heart muscle that can someday help patients with acute heart failure."
The trials conducted by the Michigan team found that not only did the engineered tissue improve heart function in the live subjects, but that the construct remained viable even after the three-week implantation period – maintaining cardiac specific function.
Heart muscle that has been tissue-engineered can be used to treat a variety of cardiovascular cases, myocardial infarction and to repair congenital heart defects.