Technology with attitude

Heart Valves Grown From Stem Cells

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Big breakthrough since heart valves involve many different types of cells.

From the Guardian:

Sir Magdi Yacoub, a professor of cardiac surgery at Imperial College London, has worked on ways to tackle the shortage of donated hearts for transplant for more than a decade. His team at the heart science centre at Harefield hospital have grown tissue that works in the same way as the valves in human hearts, a significant step towards the goal of growing whole replacement hearts from stem cells. […]

Growing replacement tissue from stem cells is one of the principal goals of biology. If a damaged part of the body can be replaced by tissue that is genetically matched to the patient, there is no chance of rejection. So far, scientists have grown tendons, cartilages and bladders, but none of these has the complexity of organs, which are three-dimensional structures of dozens of different types of cells. […]

Prof Yacoub said his team’s latest work had brought the goal of growing a whole, beating human heart closer. “It is an ambitious project but not impossible. If you want me to guess I’d say 10 years. But experience has shown that the progress that is happening nowadays makes it possible to achieve milestones in a shorter time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some day sooner than we think.”

10 years away from a heart grown from stem cells? Perhaps if they had a little help from their American counterparts, they could reach that goal faster…