Sources confirm that around 4,186 Americans are on the heart transplant list. Many of them will probably die due to donor shortage. Do you know that scientists may grow a transplantable heart in labs? This is magical dream that will soon turn into reality.
A study published in the journal Circulation Research confirmed that a group of researchers has grown a beating human heart using stem cells. Let’s talk about magic!
Previous research has been focused on using 3D printers to make 3D heart segments using biological material. These structures don’t have any heart cells, but provide a scaffold on which real tissue may grow.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School combined these findings with stem cells. The results are more than brilliant.
Heart transplants may cause complications, and the body may reject the new heart, registering it as a threat. It will end up destroying it, and patients are required to take medication to suppress their immunity. Not good, right?
For the needs of this study, researchers immersed 73 human hearts (unsuitable for transplantation) in solutions of detergent to remove any cells that may trigger the self-destructive response. They were left with the scaffold of the human heart, filled with blood vessels. This as their foundation.
Pluripotent stem cells may become bone, nerve, and even muscle cells in the body.
Researchers turned human skin cells into pluripotent stems cells that were later induced into becoming heart cells. These cells could grow on the scaffold when soaked in a nutrient solution.
About 610,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. The new findings may bring this number down.
In two week, the cells were part of immature hearts. When researchers used electricity, the hearts started beating. The body may consider these cells “friendly.” Of course, the original skin cells have to be sourced from the same body.
Jacques Guyette, a biomedical researcher at the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and lead author of the study, explained that his team will try to improve the methods, and generate more cardiac cells.
“Growing” a new heart requires “tens of billions” heart cells, and researchers “made” 500 million stem cell-derived heart cells.
This brings us a step closer towards providing a new, healthy organ to patients waiting for a heart transplant.
Researchers have developed so many techniques in the past decade, but this is the most incredibly method ever. There are so many people waiting for a second chance, and these hearts may be the only hope they have. Hopefully, researchers will finish what they started, and provide a new heart to those in need.