HOUSTON, April 5 (UPI) — A U.S. team of scientists says it has, for the first time, captured video of the embryonic heart even before it begins beating.
University of Houston Assistant Professor Kirill Larin and colleagues at the Texas Medical Center and the Baylor College of Medicine said the technology allows them to document the formation of the mammalian heart through a high-resolution, non-invasive imaging device, providing perhaps the best live imagery taken of the vital organ.
“Everything we know about early development of the heart and formation of the vasculature system comes from in vitro studies of fixed tissue samples or studies of amphibian and fish embryos,” Larin said. “With this technology, we are able to image life as it happens (and) see the heart beat in a mammal for the very first time.”
The researchers said they used optical-coherence tomography — a technique involving a depth-resolved analysis created by the reflection of an infrared laser beam off an object. Larin said the team is using the technique to study what leads to cardiovascular abnormalities.
Ultimately, Larin and his collaborators said they aim to discover how different gene mutations affect cardiovascular development and reduce the number of babies born with abnormities, as well as shed light on how to prevent and treat heart-related problems before birth.
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