From the wise words of Peter Griffin… Why are we not funding this?!
There are currently over 4000 people waiting for a heart transplant in the U.S alone. With the shortage of donors, and a long waiting list it is sad but not all of these patients will survive. A study in the journal Circulation Research has been moved one step closer to the reality of growing a transplantable heart. The team of researchers have successfully grown a beating human heart with the use of stem cells.
With the wonder of 3D printing, not only have artificial limbs been able to be produces foe 1/4 of the price of recent developers, but now internal organs have been designed based off of segments designed by a 3D printer.
The main problem with a traditional heart transplant is that there is a chance that the receivers body will reject the new organ, where it will proceed to attack and destroy it. The only way to stop this is by suppressing the immune system, which may only help in a few cases.
For this study, they took 73 human hearts and put them into a detergent solution which stripped them of any cells that may cause the receiver’s body to attack the organ and destroy the organ. This left the heart matrix, which would be used as the vessel where the stem cells could grow onto.
For this research, human skin cells were reprogrammed into becoming pluripotent stem cells. They were then induced into becoming two types of heart cells, which were shown to readily develop and grow on the lab scaffold when bathed in a nutrient solution.
In a matter of 2 weeks, all of the hearts had resembled immature but structurally sound hearts, With a burst of electricity, the hearts actually started to beat.
While this is a huge step in the right direction, this study manufactured a 500 million stem cell derived heart, while an actual transplantable heart would take tens of billions! Research continues so that hopefully one day we can lower the waiting list for those waiting on a heart transplant