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Vanderbilt Finds New Way To Study Heart Disease

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Finding a cure for heart disease just got a lot easier.

Vanderbilt doctors recently discovered a new way to study America's leading killer.

"(We) figured out a way to grow these cells on a petri dish so that they contract and provide function," said Charles Hong, M.D., Ph.D. "For the first time we can actually assess cardiac function and contractility of individual human heart cells."

This scientific breakthrough came after a piece of equipment broke during research and a Vanderbilt Ph.D. student ended up turning a roadblock into an opportunity.

"Without fancy equipment and synthetic materials he was able to he achieve what we intended to do in a roundabout way," Hong said.

Vanderbilt doctors are calling this method "matrigel mattress" because this way provides more of a cushion for heart cells to contract against.

But what does this mean for you? Well, for years doctors have only been able to study the heart cells of mice. Now they're studying actual human heart cells. All because they turned an obstacle into a medical innovation.

"Sometimes you just have to be open to serendipity, keep your eyes open and let the discovery happen," Hong said.

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