As obesity is increasing among US people, heart diseases are becoming more common and a need for a heart transplant is increasing. Approximately over 4000 American people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant and many of them die during this wait, due to the lack of donors. But the scientists have good news!
A study published in the journal Circulation Research showed that it is really possible to create a heart from stem cells, as a group of researches has grown a human heart in the laboratory conditions.
Before this, researches have been focusing on this solution using 3D printers to make 3D heart segments by using biological material, but they had no heart cells, only a scaffold that might provide space for real tissue to grow. Since the case here was with a “might”, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School combined their previous findings with stem cells and came with this amazing solution of creating a real human heart.
For this study researchers plunged 73 human hearts, which were un-transplantable, and removed any cells that might trigger a self-destructive reaction through a solution of detergent. This was done due to the fact that heart transplants might be rejected by a human body recognizing it as a threat. At the end of this experiment, they were left with the scaffold of the human heart which was filled with blood vessels.
Researchers made it possible to turn human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells which were later became heart cells, and those could grow on the scaffold when soaked in a nutrient solution.
The cells were part of immature hearts within two weeks, and when scientists used electricity, the heart reacted and began to beat. The original skin cells must be sourced from the same body that is receiving the transplant.
Jacques Guyette, a biomedical researcher at the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and lead author of the study, said that his team would try to improve the methods and generate more cardiac cells. To make a new heart, it requires tens of billions of heart cells, and scientists had made 500 million stem cell-derived heart cells.
That brings us a step closer towards providing a new, healthy organ to patients waiting for a heart transplant. Researchers already have developed many other techniques in the past, but this one might be “it”.
Around 610,000 Americans die from heart disease every year and hopefully, these new findings will bring this number down because this “new heart’ in many cases is their only hope for a second chance.
As researchers are working towards this solution, we hope it will soon be a “tangible” reality and it will serve for good to those in need.