Massachusetts researchers grow functional heart tissues from stem cells

International Business Times

heart in a bioreactor. Bernard Jank, Ott. Lab. Center for Regenerative Medicine, Massachusetts Ge

First, it was various eye cells that researchers grew from stem cells. Now, it is heart tissues that scientists are growing out of skin cells, paving the way, one day, for new hearts to be made for cardiovascular patients needing new ones.

That would mean heart transplant patients would no longer need to wait for a donor match. Instead, a heart could be grown from their stem cells, lowering the chance of the body rejecting the transplanted organ. CNET reports that Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have successfully grown functional heart tissue from stem cells using skin cells.

However, for now it is the heart tissue that could be grown because growing an entire heart from cells is not possible yet since the organ would require a scaffold to give the cells a shape. That scaffold, an extracellular matrix, is created by the cells from proteins secreted.

Besides the structural scaffold, it would also need a supply of specialised cardiac cells and a supportive environment where cells can repopulate the scaffold to form mature tissue capable of handling complex cardiac functions, says Jacques Guyette, lead author of the study published in Circulation Research journal. Continue reading