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Simple Idea Makes Heart Beat in a Lab

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, January 14, 2008 8:22 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices


Researchers at the University of Minnesota have had a breakthrough using stem cells to recreate a beating heart in rats in the field of bio-artificials organs.


The idea is being called an amazingly simple one.

Make hearts, livers, kidneys in a lab and use them to replace organs for deathly ill patients, rather than waiting on a list for an organ to become available. An estimated 50,000 people die each year waiting for a donor heart. 

University of Minnesota researchers say they’re a step closer to that dream, announcing Sunday they’ve created a beating functioning rat heart in a lab.

The University researchers are not jumping on the “landmark achievement” and “stunning advance” accolades but warn that the dream is at least 10 years away. “We just took nature’s own building blocks to build a new organ,” Dr. Doris Taylor said of her team’s report in the journal Nature Medicine.

Here is how it works – researchers take the dead cells from a rat heart but leave behind the “scaffolding,” that is the valves and outer structure in which the new heart will grow. They then take new heart cells from a newborn rat and inject them into the scaffolding.

Dr. Taylor’s team noticed that within two weeks the new beating heart began pumping blood sparked by an electrical impulses that mimic blood pressure and a pulse. The host rat's system began growing new blood vessels in the wall of the heart as the cells matured.

Dr. Taylor tells Voice of America, “What is really cool is that over time, our heart actually replaces that matrix that we call it. It is basically the cell saying 'I need something, something to hang on to,' and they build more of it over time."

 What’s next?

Growing a human heart that could match an individual’s body using stem cells placed in a human scaffold.

Dr. Taylor tells the New York Times this  “opens the door to this notion that you can make any organ: kidney, liver, lung, pancreas — you name it and we hope we can make it,” she said.

Dr. Taylor’s mantra is “trust your crazy ideas,” referring  to her observation three years ago that viable cells were removed from human hearts before being used in damaged ones.

Using stem cells from pigs to repair cardiac muscle is on the horizon in the growing bio-artificial organ field. Still unanswered – whether an animal model will work in humans.

Dr. Taylor is uncertain whether stem cells would have to be taken from a kidney to create a kidney, from a heart to create a heart. The other question is whether taking anti-rejection drugs would be required permanently.

And should stem cells be taken from humans?  President Bush is adamantly against that and has used his veto power twice to reject any advances in research using stem cells.  #




1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 12:59 PM EST

you all can and should go poop

Comments for this article are closed.

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