Beating Heart Created in Laboratory

“The idea would be to develop transplantable blood vessels or whole organs that are made from your own cells,” said Doris Taylor, Ph.D., director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair from the University of Minnesota. While there have been advances in generating heart tissue in the lab, creating an entire 3-dimensional scaffold that mimics the complex cardiac architecture and intricacies, has always been a mystery, Taylor said.

It seems decellularization may be a solution – essentially using nature’s platform to create a bioartifical heart, she said. Decellularization is the process of removing all of the cells from an organ – in this case an animal cadaver heart – leaving only the extracellular matrix, the framework between the cells, intact.

After successfully removing all of the cells from both rat and pig hearts, researchers injected them with a mixture of progenitor cells that came from neonatal or newborn rat hearts and placed the structure in a sterile setting in the lab to grow. The results seemed promising, Taylor said. Four days after seeding the decellularized heart scaffolds with the heart cells, contractions were observed. Eight days later, the hearts were pumping.

“Take a section of this ‘new heart’ and slice it, and cells are back in there,” Taylor said. “The cells have many of the markers we associate with the heart and seem to know how to behave like heart tissue.”

Researchers hope that the decellularization process could be used to make new donor organs. Because a new heart could be filled with the recipient’s cells, researchers hypothesize it’s much less likely to be rejected by the body. And once placed in the recipient, in theory the heart would be nourished, regulated, and regenerated similar to the heart that it replaced.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Minnesota