British medical researchers have grown human heart tissue from stem cells in a breakthrough that offers a possible solution to a shortage of donors for heart transplants, a newspaper said Monday.
The Guardian newspaper reported that if animal trials scheduled
for later this year prove successful, replacement tissue could be
used in transplants for heart disease patients within three years.
Researchers led by Magdi Yacoub, a professor of cardiac surgery
at Imperial College London, have grown tissue from stem cells in
bone marrow that works in the same way as the valves in human
hearts, it said.
Stem cells are immature cells that grow into various tissues.
Whole heart in 10 years
Yacoub, who has worked for a decade on how to deal with a
shortage of donated hearts for transplant, said the work had
brought the goal of growing a whole human heart closer.
"It's an ambitious project but not impossible. If you want me to
guess, I'd say 10 years," he was quoted as saying.
"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."
There is a shortage of replacement organs, and though some of
the functions can be reproduced by artificial systems, not all can.
Growing replacement tissue from stem cells has been a key goal
of scientists. If a damaged part of the body can be replaced by
tissue that is genetically matched to the patient, it cannot be
Organs more complicated
Scientists until now have grown tendons, cartilage and bladders
but none of these has the complexity of organs.
World Health Organisation figures, The Guardian said, show that
there were 15 million deaths from heart disease in 2005. By 2010,
it is estimated that 600 000 people around the world will need
replacement heart valves.
The heart valve research will be published in August in a
special edition of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society, The Guardian said. – (Sapa-AFP)
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