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WORCESTER, Mass. — The human heart cells had just arrived, and Marianne Kanellias couldn’t wait to take them out of the liquid nitrogen cryostat and insert them into a gelatinous patch that may one day help a person heal after a heart attack.

Kanellias, who graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in May, has spent the past three years volunteering in the laboratory of George Pins, a biomedical engineering professor, on a project to help the heart recover after parts of it die from lack of oxygen.


The team has already knit together a patch of tissue with rat heart cells, and it beats back and forth like pink bubble gum Flubber. Soon, they’ll upgrade to human cells — while also starting the long and arduous process of animal testing required before the Band-Aids stand a chance of helping real people.

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