Human Hearts Grown Using Stem Cells in The Laboratory!
A team of researchers headed by Dr. Doris Taylor, from the University of Minnesota, for the first time have succeeded in growing living human hearts using stem cells in the laboratory.
The team began the experiment by obtaining eight “ghost hearts” from the human dead bodies. A ghost heart is nothing but the tough and thick skeleton of proteins covering the human heart.
The ghost hearts were stripped off of the cells and were filled with human stem cells. Very soon, these cells began to differentiate into heart cells after adhering to the skeleton.
According to Dr. Taylor, the growth of the hearts is normal and she is expecting to see the heart beat in a week’s time. She also opines that, in spite of the many complications in the process of growing a complete heart, with positive results, full organs needed for organ transplant surgeries can be grown in the near future.
Earlier, her team had succeeded in growing a rat and a pig’s heart in the laboratory. Both the hearts not only grew but also began their heartbeats.
Another research study was conducted by combining animal “ghost hearts” with human stem cells. The ghost hearts of pigs and rats were seeded with human stem cells. Similar to earlier experiments, even in this case, rapid cell multiplication followed by cell colonization and heartbeat was observed. The small beating strength of 25 percent (of a normal heartbeat) did not stand as a hurdle because the very first challenge of getting the hearts to start beating was crossed.
Although the process of creating an entire organ suitable for transplant is challenging and time consuming, the potential is clearly visible according to Dr. Taylor.
The two major problems during transplant operations; donor organ shortage and risk of rejection can be overcome if the results obtained so far continue at the same wavelength till the end of the experimental studies.