Making a heart: advances in understanding the mechanisms of cardiac development

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Purpose of review

The study of cardiac development is critical to inform management strategies for congenital and acquired heart disease. This review serves to highlight some of the advances in this field over the past year.

Recent findings

Three main areas of study are included that have been particularly innovative and progressive. These include more precise gene targeting in animal models of disease and in moving from animal models to human disease, more precise in-vitro models including three-dimensional structuring and inclusion of hemodynamic components, and expanding the concepts of genetic regulation of heart development and disease.


Targeted genetics in animal models are able to make use of tissue and time-specific promotors that drive gene expression or knockout with high specificity. In-vitro models can recreate flow patterns in blood vessels and across cardiac valves. Noncoding RNAs, once thought to be of no consequence to gene transcription and translation, prove to be key regulators of genetic function in health and disease.

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