The wonders of science. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have successfully grown functional heart tissue from stem cells created from skin cells.
This makes a future where patients who need a new heart get one without a donor. The use of stem cells means that the cell is gotten from a different part of the body and regenerated to that of a heart’s.
while this sounds like genius, an entire heart cannot be grown from stem cells without the use of a mold to give it a shape. So a mold known as an extracellular matrix, which is created from proteins secreted by the cells is created to fulfill this purpose.
“Generating functional cardiac tissue involves meeting several challenges,” lead author Jacques Guyette said in a statement.
“These include providing a structural scaffold that is able to support cardiac function, a supply of specialized cardiac cells, and a supportive environment in which cells can repopulate the scaffold to form mature tissue capable of handling complex cardiac functions.”
Due to time management, the team made use of 73 donor hearts from the New Engloand Organ Bank which had been deemed unsuitable for transplantation.
The team used a detergent solution to strip the hearts of it’s living cells — thereby making it a natural scaffold rather than the time consuming creation of extracellular matrix.
In order to propagate the matrices, the researchers use the messenger RNA method to change the skin cells to stem cells. The pluripotent cells were than activated into cardiac muscle cells.
The organ was mounted in an automatic bio-reactor for 14 days while heart conditions and environments were replicated.
Concerning the future of the research , Guyette said,
“Regenerating a whole heart is most certainly a long-term goal that is several years away, so we are currently working on engineering a functional myocardial patch that could replace cardiac tissue damaged due to a heart attack or failure,
“Among the next steps that we are pursuing are improving methods to generate even more cardiac cells— recellularizing a whole heart would take tens of billions— optimizing bioreactor-based culture techniques to improve the maturation and function of engineered cardiac tissue, and electronically integrating regenerated tissue to function within the recipient’s heart.”
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