Hybrid Hearts Coated With Stem Cells Show Promise

June 10, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Scientists are on the verge of producing hybrid hearts and other organs that have the advantage of being grown in a lab, providing a plentiful supply and are less apt to be rejected, because they would be coated with the patient’s own stem cells.

The future is now, already many patients are walking around with pig heart valves and that’s just the beginning.

There is a severe shortage of healthy human transplant organs in the United States and around the world. There have been precious few options to patients needing organ transplants. Animal organs from pigs trigger an immune response causing a rejection of the organ and can harbor swine viruses. Artificial hearts are too complex to develop from scratch and can be rejected, as well.

So, scientists came up with a hybrid solution, using either a human or animal heart “scaffold” scrubbed clean of flesh, cells and DNA, a process called “decellularisation,” leaving a frame of collagen, and “immunologically inert” protein. Scientists then seed the cleaned scaffold with stem cells and wait for it to grow, which is called “recellularisation.”

The stem cells differentiate into the missing parts of the organ in all the right places, including tissue, ventricles, muscle cells, veins, arteries and capillaries.

Another benefit is that when the heart scaffolds are coated with the patient’s own stem cells; the hybrid organs don’t provoke the immune response that prevents traditional xenotransplants. A xenotransplant is a transplant between species.

So far, scientists have been successful using decellularised rat hearts coated with rat stem cells. One group of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, say they have established proof of concept that liver recellularisation works in rats and mice. Meaning they seeded and grew liver scaffolds and successfully transplanted them, with the animals surviving.

Next on the horizon are experiments using organ scaffolds from pigs and human cadavers and coating them with human stem cells.

A hybrid decellularised organ capable of being safely transplanted in human patents is still years away, but scientists are moving forward in this exciting field of stem cell research at breakneck speed and we could see such a transplant in our lifetimes.



2 Responses to “Hybrid Hearts Coated With Stem Cells Show Promise”

  1. bird5 on June 10th, 2009 1:47 am

    Will the FDA Kill Adult Stem Cell Medicine?
    Should adult stem cells be a prescription drug controlled by the FDA or Standard Practice of Medicine?

  2. Stan on June 10th, 2009 12:06 pm

    This is GREAT news!!! I’m very estatic about this research. I believe I saw a similar (may have been the exact same thing) case on a special of Oprah đŸ™‚

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