Scientists at York University have created 3D heart cells that are able to beat in synchronization with existing heart cells. 

Until now, most 2D and 3D heart tissue didn't beat at the same time as natural heart tissue and required medical scaffolding to allow it to beat and grow. 

Previous research at the University of Toronto grew 3D heart cells on such scaffolding in 2016. The researchers sought to simulate organs for drug testing or to possibly grow replacement organs. 

The new method of sticking three types of heart tissue together was found by York University professor Muhammad Yousaf and three students. The team believes this is the first time this has been done. 

"This breakthrough will allow better and earlier drug testing, and potentially eliminate harmful or toxic medications sooner," Yousaf said. 

The substance that helped bind the cells together, called ViaGlue, also provides new tools for researchers to create and test 3D cardiac tissue in labs to study heart diseases and transplant issues. 

"Making in-vitro 3D cardiac tissue has long presented a challenge to scientists because of the high density of cells and muscularity of the heart," said Dmitry Rogozhnikov, a chemistry PhD student who was on the research team.

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 2.4 million Canadians over age 20 suffer from heart disease, and it is the leading cause of death in the country.