"It is still far from making a whole human heart," added senior researcher Lei Yang.
Ways have to be found to make the heart contract strongly enough to pump blood effectively and to rebuild the heart's electrical conduction system.
"However, we provide a novel resource of cells -- iPS cell-derived MCPs -- for future heart tissue engineering," Yang told AFP by email. "We hope our study would be used in the future to replace a piece of tissue damaged by a heart attack, or perhaps an entire organ, in patients with heart disease."
According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 17 million people die of cardiovascular ailments every year, most of them from heart disease. Due to a shortage of donor organs, "end-stage heart failure is irreversible," said the study. More than half of patients with heart disease do not benefit from drugs.
"Heart tissue engineering holds a great promise... based on the reconstruction of patient-specific cardiac muscle," the researchers wrote.
Last month, scientists in Japan said they had grown functional human liver tissue from stem cells in a similar process. Creating lab-grown tissue to replenish organs damaged by accident or disease is a Holy Grail for the pioneering field of stem cell research.