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Medicine Science

Bioreactors Engineer Tissue To Mend Heart Damage 46

Posted by samzenpus
from the make-yourself-better dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Heart attacks usually cause irreversible damage to heart muscle and, because cells lost from the heart do not grow back naturally, leave the organ in a weakened and vulnerable state that may cause another serious condition — called heart failure — if the victim survives. Now a team of scientists led by Tal Dvir from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva has developed a tissue-engineering technique, using the body as a 'bioreactor,' to create a 'patch' made from heart muscle that can be used to fix scarring left over from a heart attack. First, a biodegradable 'scaffold' is seeded with immature cells taken from the hearts of newborn rats. For 48 hours, the scaffold is exposed to a cocktail of growth-promoting chemicals in the laboratory and is then transplanted into a rat's abdomen where it develops a network of blood vessels and muscle fibers. After seven days the patch is removed and grafted onto the animal's heart. A month later the patch has completely integrated itself into the heart, synchronizing its 'beat' with that of the surrounding tissue. 'Using the body as a bioreactor to engineer cardiac tissue with stable and functional blood vessel networks represents a significant improvement in cardiac patch performance over ex vivo (outside the body) methods currently used for patch production,' write the authors. The technique is also being developed for livers and bladders."
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Bioreactors Engineer Tissue To Mend Heart Damage

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  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by markov_chain (202465) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @10:25PM (#29211949) Homepage

    Now we just need a supply of newborn humans to take heart cells from, and we'll be able to apply the same technique :D

    • Re:Great (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:59PM (#29212509) Journal

      Yeah yeah, funny. But there's a very serious side to this joke. Where *are* all these cells going to come from? Well, it looks like the answer is just about here - YOU! [time.com] See, scientists are rapidly unlocking the code behind what is a "stem cell" and are able to reprogram them to be whatever you want them to be.

      In the (near!) future, you may be able to regenerate heart tissue, liver tissue, or (in my case) new teeth, simply by taking a small skin scraping, culturing the cells, reprogramming them into stem cells, or into whatever type of cell is actually needed - teeth, heart, liver, or whatever.

      The resulting tissue could then be surgically implanted with zero risk of rejection, since they are cells from your own body, with your DNA/RNA and so on!

      This is a brave new world that includes (at last!) a cure for Type I Diabetes, Parkinsons, heart disease, bad teeth, and too many other illnesses to name.

      For example, there was a cure for Diabetes YEARS AGO called the Edmonton Protocol [wikipedia.org] that had the unfortunate side effect of requiring hundreds of donor cadavers. I was, for a while, intensely excited (one of my oldest sons is Type 1 Diabetic) but the donor cadavers does present just a *bit* of a problem.

      But suddenly, now, donors aren't a problem. If I need islet cells, I can donate a bit of skin tissue! Or even have a liposuction!

      This isn't big. This isn't huge. This is world-changing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It would be world changing, but it certainly isn't in the near future. It's a scaling problem: any human-useful structure is hundreds of grams of tissue. Even with exponential growth, stem cell labs have trouble producing single digit grams of cells, let alone intact tissues of millimeter thickness.

        This stuff works pretty well in mice and rats - ectopic formation and vascularization of muscle has been known for years - because those animals are small enough that useful tissue can get its initial nutrition

        • by Dodder (1410959)

          Cool. So what's that? About 60-65 years away? Sounds about right. I might make it.

  • by ZackSchil (560462) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @10:35PM (#29212037)

    "First, a biodegradable 'scaffold' is seeded with immature cells taken from the hearts of newborn rats."

    Next, moisten the scaffolding with the tears of orphaned fur seal cubs. Add the growth media consisting of ground up puppy bones and in 3 or 4 weeks, you will see the first growth in your heart patch.

    Unfortunately, this technique seems inadequate to patch my empty heart. No matter how many times I try.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by fractoid (1076465)

      Unfortunately, this technique seems inadequate to patch my empty heart. No matter how many times I try.

      Try using enough small children as cell donors.

      • I wonder how much will take to scientists start to grow entire human organs in a lab...

        It will somewhat simplify these moral questions.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      No, no. You have to 'moisten' the 'scaffolding' with the 'tears' of 'orphaned' 'fur' seal 'cubs.'

  • hooray! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @10:57PM (#29212157) Journal
    Another new technology! Hope it's not so expensive that my insurance company will deny it to me. Or my government, if that's how the tail swings. In fact, maybe I'll just go sit under a tree and die. It will be more romantic. Romantic in the artistic sense, which is the kind all slashdotters can relate to.
  • ...three times fast:
    Tal Dvir from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva
    Tal Dvir from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva
    Tal Dvir from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva

    Blarrrrrurrrurrr. Uck!

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