Establishing an internationally competitive Stem Cell Biotech Cluster in HK: Bioartificial Human Hearts

Grant Data
Project Title
Establishing an internationally competitive Stem Cell Biotech Cluster in HK: Bioartificial Human Hearts
Principal Investigator
Professor Boheler, Kenneth Richard   (Project coordinator)
Professor Wu Jingshen   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Oh Steve   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Wu Joseph C.   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Chen Christopher   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Tung Leslie   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Costa Kevin David   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Khine Michelle   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Tomaselli Gordon   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Chien Ken   (Co-Investigator)
Start Date
Completion Date
Conference Title
Presentation Title
Stem Cell Biotech Cluster, Bioartificial Human Hearts
Others - Medicine, Dentistry and Health
HKU Project Code
Grant Type
Innovation and Technology Support Programme (Tier 2)
Funding Year
The present project focuses on developing human stem cell-based diagnostic technologies, products and services to uniquely reduce the time, cost, use of animals and humans and therefore patient harm for facilitating pharmaceutical discovery and development of novel therapeutics for heart diseases, notorious for being a highly inefficient and expensive process. A major factor has been due to the lack of appropriate human heart models to simulate the normal and patho-physiology of our native human heart. Traditional mouse models are cheap and accessible but major species differences from humans in the cardiac anatomy and function exist. Indeed, numerous drugs have been withdrawn from the market because of proven risks to the patients and other adverse clinical side effects (with cardiotoxicity being the leading cause even for drugs not originally designed for the heart) that were not detected until during Phase III clinical trials or later, after significant patient recruitment and economical investments (e.g., a single drug withdrawal typically costs pharmaceutical companies 10+ years and US$1 billion). The present project is dedicated to the development and engineering of bio-artificial human heart prototypes using a combination of world’s first state-of-the-art cell and tissue engineering approaches. Our proprietary engineered prototypes of micro-patterned 2D monolayers and 3D muscle strip as well as an organoid chamber (i.e. "mini" hearts that approximate the size of a fingertip) best mimic the native human heart in numerous aspects and are superior to other models available in the market. These next-generation tools present 1) A more sensitive, accurate and convenient predictive tool for cardiotoxicity (arrhythmogenicity) screening, drug discovery and modeling of various heart diseases, and 2) A higher bio-fidelity prototype for potential future transplant applications. Using the reprogramming technology, we also have the capability to construct human heart tissues/chambers that are genetically identical to the individual patients for "personalized" screening. Please see Appendix 1A for images and video of our various human heart prototypes that we propose to upgrade in the proposed project of our cluster.