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Biotech Science

Researchers Create Beating Heart In Lab 258

Posted by kdawson
from the keeps-on-ticking dept.
Sunday Scientist writes "Minnesota researchers have created a beating heart in the laboratory. In a process called whole organ decellularization, they grew functioning heart tissue by using dead rat and pig hearts as a sort of flesh matrix, and reseeding them with a mixture of live cells. The goal is to grow replacement parts, using their own stem cells, for people born with defective tickers or experiencing heart failure."
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Researchers Create Beating Heart In Lab

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  • Not quite creating. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2008 @07:05PM (#22028988)
    If I'm reading this right, they didn't so much create a new heart as bring a dead one back to life.

    Which is possibly even cooler, and I'm sure you can find 50k hearts a year in the US that wouldn't normally be donatable because of time constraints. (A heart is (normally!) only good for 4 hours after death or removal iirc). And even beyond saved lives, we can hopefully get a better quality of life too, since there should be less time waiting for a transplant with a half dead body.

    Hmm, do modern artificial hearts last 8 days reliably? And would a diseased heart be practical?

    What about organ rejection issues, will those be causes by the dead heart, the stem cells, both?
  • by joh (27088) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @07:28PM (#22029162)
    I mean, really. The stinkin' rich will have their hearts replicated and grown one after another just in case, while you and me will just drop down, carried to a hospital, and die. Somehow that's *not* the future I was thinking of when I was young. The bits and pieces (hah!) are there meanwhile, but our society isn't there at all.

    A friend of mine was working in a hospital when some old and ill VIP had a heart failure and he not only got a replacement right away (while others died waiting for a replacement for months), no, he also got a second heart when the first one was rejected by his immune system within a day. Well, he died anyway from unrelated causes soon after, but I can't get over the vision of two otherwise perfectly healthy normal guys dying just because two hearts were *wasted* this way. I want to vomit each time I have to think of that event.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @10:53PM (#22030570) Journal
    And I seriously don't think the US government has held back research on stem cells. They just don't pay for it.

    Unfortunately, they also consider that, if they ever spent any money on the construction or operation of the facility, they've "paid for it" sufficiently that no stem cell research can be done there. That eliminates virtually all medical research facilities - certainly all of 'em that are attached to universites and medical schools.

    (Now if it were up to me the enforcement of that would consist of charging a higher overhead rate - calculated to replace the federal contribution to facility construction and operation under normal accounting principles - to any project that came under the federal ban. But it's not up to me. And the obvious intent of congress was to do their best to ban the research, rather than just pull federal funds.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2008 @11:06PM (#22030652)
    Err, did you read "A Gift From Earth"? That's when Niven described precisely this technology, and it disrupted the social order you refer to. He wrote it in the late 60s. Yeah, he missed it by a country mile. Wanker.

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