Stem Cell Research Takes on a New Meaning
The new bioartificial heart was created by a team of doctors at the University of Minnesota. The team used a whole heart from a rat and harvested cells from it. Then with the resulting architecture of intact chambers, valves, and blood vessels, repopulated the structure using adult stem cells. After four days, the cells began to contract and at eight days, the heart was visibly beating. (Heart muscle cells have a highly specialized and intrinsic ability to be able to beat of their own accord at around 20 times per minute.)
Hearts created by this method would be made of a patient’s own stem cells and would be much more likely to be recognized as self by the body, eliminating the need for massive doses of anti-rejection drugs that can destroy vital organs, causing diabetes, and kidney failure.
This technology, however, is not limited to hearts. Blood vessels, kidneys, pancreases, and almost any other organ with a blood supply could be built. The source of the patient’s stem cells could come from bone marrow, muscle, or the heart, depending upon the need.