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Scientist Grow Beating Rats Heart

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Scientist Grow Beating Rats Heart

Beating Heart Grown In Lab Brings New Hope for Custom-built Organs

Scientists have worked for years for ways to grow body parts and that dream may not be too far away. Researchers seeking new treatments for heart disease recently managed to grow a rats heart in the lab and start it beating.

beating heart Scientist Grow Beating Rats Heart

“While it still sounds like science fiction, we’ve hopefully opened a new door in the notion that we can build these tissues and one day provide options for patients with end-stage disease,”

said Dr. Doris Taylor, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota. “We’re not there yet, but at least now we have another tool in our tool belt.”

Taylor led the team whose research appeared in Sunday’s online edition of the journal Nature Medicine. She told reporters that her team began by trying to determine if it were possible to transplant rat heart cells.

Together with her colleagues they used a process called decellularisation, in which powerful chemicals strip the cells from a dead animal heart. After removing all the cells they were left with the protein “skeleton” that created its shape.

Scientists then injected live “progenitor” cells – muscle cells and endothelial cells that line blood vessels – back into this scaffold, which multiplied and grew back over it, eventually linking together into a new organ.

“By two days we saw tiny, microscopic contractions, and by seven to eight days there were contractions large enough to see with the naked eye,” she said. The tiny hearts could pump liquid at about one-fourth the rate of a normal fetal rat’s heart. Harald Ott, who worked with Taylor expressed his excitement,

“We took nature’s building blocks to build a new organ”¦..When we saw the first contractions we were speechless.”


One big advantage of such an approach is that organs so built would use stem cells taken from the patient so the body’s immune system would not reject them.

The idea would be to develop transplantable blood vessels or whole organs that are made from your own cells,” Taylor said. “It opens a door to the notion that you can make any organ – kidney, liver or pancreas. You name it and we hope we can make it.”

“The long-term hope is that a similar process could work with either human hearts from cadavers or pig hearts, with their cells stripped off and replaced by cells from the person needing a heart transplant to avoid rejection.”

An estimated 5 million Americans live with heart failure and about 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. Approximately 50,000 die annually waiting for a heart donor.

Professor Doris Taylor, director of the university’s centre for cardiovascular repair, believes this could be a significant step towards creating custom-built hearts, blood vessels and other organs for people with serious illness.

Dr. John Mayer Jr., a heart specialist and researcher at Children’s Hospital in Boston, said the report was an “important paper that advances the ball down the road.” But, he added, “It’s pretty long road.”

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