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Biotech Science

Grow Your Own Heart Valves 180

jcr writes "Medical researchers in Britain have succeeded in growing a heart valve from adult stem cells taken from bone marrow. The research is being reported in the journal of the Royal Society today. Growing a heart value from your own cells means that tissue rejection isn't an issue."
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Grow Your Own Heart Valves

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  • by devC ( 1143613 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @10:33AM (#20463957)
    It is amazing that they did this with adult stem cells and not embryonic stem cells. I wonder why the big push for embryonic stem cells?
  • by slughead ( 592713 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @10:35AM (#20463987) Homepage Journal
    Tissue rejection isn't an issue with heart valves (one of the few tissues where it's not a problem).

    The problem with heart valves is that if you replace one with, say, a pig valve, it won't grow. For adults, this is not a problem, but for kids, it means they'll have to have a replacement in a few years as their heart literally grows out of the valve(s).

    This new grow-your-own approach would probably be best for children. For adults, however, heart valve replacement is actually fairly routine and requires no anti-rejection drugs afterwards.
  • by locokamil ( 850008 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:05AM (#20464329) Homepage
    Why the devil has parent been modded flamebait? Just because he doesn't agree with the groupthink doesn't mean that it's a null/void opinion!
  • by mavi_yelken ( 801565 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:29AM (#20464689)
    The procedure is still untested in animal experiments, meaning they don't know if transplanted it will work at all but this is certainly encouraging. Best of luck to Dr. Yacoub and his team.

    Also I couldn't find a link to the paper by Dr. Yacoub which should have been here []

  • Re:php (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Retric ( 704075 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:37AM (#20464795)
    So, ignoring the fact that a strong push into embryonic stem cell research would have resulted in zero additional baby deaths you assuming we would be in the same place today? Ethics aside we are probably in a worse place today than we would be without embryonic stem cell research. Over time millions of people may die because we are just a little behind where we could be. However, we will never know what could have been...


    PS: The point of research is to find out how to do things. It was unlikely we would ever use embrionic stem cells as "standard" treatment but we could have learned a lot about how cells work much sooner.
  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:09PM (#20465275)
    However, left to his own devices in his native environment, a human embryo will develop into an autonomous human.

    No, there could be a miscarrage.

    You are taking a life and converting it into property without giving that life a chance to decide.

    We do the same thing to other living things all the time. We kill catapillers before they become butterflys.

    How does harvesting an embryo not equate to slavery?

    Because its a mass of cells, and not a human being? There's no brain, arms, legs, heart, anything. It cannot survive on its own either.

    We Americans fought a war over this 150 years ago, and I find it amazing that, by changing the perception of "when life begins," some Americans think it's okay. I would have less problem with embryonic stem cells _if_ the embryo were not destroyed.

    More than that; these embros live inside another human being, which has rights too. Unlike an embryo, that person can reason and decide what they want to do (or not do) with their own body, including whether or not another living being may survive in it.

    I'm also suprised how many Americans think they can involve themselves into the personal affairs of others. Does it really affect YOU specifically in any way? I don't see how it could.

    The promise of adult stem cells has yet to be fully explored, and I'm glad research is bearing fruit and receiving media attention. As you say, embryonic cells are potentially easier to deal with. Managing slaves is easier than working with a union; but which is more moral?

    Don't equate a few human cells with slavery. You just look foolish.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:13PM (#20465335)
    Actually this is pretty simple...simple enough for a 4-year old to understand ... Once the egg is fertilized, only then do you have a human.

    Why, because you said so? What criteria are you using for what makes a human being a human being? For that matter, given that there is no widespread consensus on the issue of what "life" is, exactly, in any of the major fields of interest - biology, religion, psychology, philosophy - which is why it's an issue to begin with, upon what authority do you draw from to make such a final statement of "fact" meaningful? Are you an expert in some relevant field? Have you research to back any of this up, or a cohesive philosophical argument that doesn't have any major holes in it like all others before it?

    I doubt all that, really. It's easy to see a "simple" solution when you can't even process the complexity of the actual problem. When you can prove to me what makes "life" alive, I'll reconsider your argument in full, but first I want to see that you even remotely grasp the sheer scope of the problem underlying this topic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:26PM (#20465551)
    I too have a deformed heart valve that has only two parts instead of three. It was discovered for the first time during my exit physical from the Navy. I was a competitive distance runner before the discovery, and continued running afterwards as well. Don't forgoe exercise in fear of your heart valve giving out. Lack of exercise is more likely to kill you than over exercising. I'm really glad to hear that a natural alternative to the mechanical replacement valves may be on the horizon. Science is a good thing. Moderate exercise and a good diet is good for all of us, good heart valves or bad.
  • by jcgf ( 688310 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:34PM (#20465651)
    Don't you mean a rib?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:52PM (#20465875)
    As previously mentioned, if you are an adult, then this has little bearing on your situation. At some point, your cardiologist will probably suggest that they fix your aortic valve. This is commonly done with the "Ross Procedure", and involves replacing your aortic valve with your pulmonary, and then using a pig valve or human tissue valve to replace the pulmonary. If done now or in the near future, it's generally a 50+ year shelf life until it starts to break down.

    I had my Ross done in 1995, but they had to fix an issue with my ascending aorta last year and had to go back in. They typically stint the aorta now when they do a Ross, since it will eventually become an issue later in life. I have no restrictions (other than no weight lifting) and the recovery time isn't as bad as you might think. As scary as the prospect seems, it's a pretty common procedure and beats the alternative of having to fix it in an emergency.

    I think the possibility of heart valves from stem cells is huge for infants and kids, and there are a lot of kids that have this done each year.
  • Re:php (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kasparov ( 105041 ) * on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:53PM (#20467879)

    All the productive therapies are coming out of the adult side, not the embryonic side. Had we concentrated our funds on adult stem cell research, we might be even further ahead.
    Gee, do you think that the adult side being more productive currently might be because funding has been severely limited on the embryonic side? Of course the option with the most funding has an easier time being developed. Jesus, funding has been concentrated on adult stem cell research! There is almost no federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Not to mention the fact that the embryos that would be used for embryonic stem cell research are just being thrown away! No one is going to outlaw IVF because it would be just about impossible to get a law passed forbidding couples that desperately want to have a child the option of IVF. So the embryos are going to be there no matter what. Why not use them? Forbidding embryonic stem cell research in no way shape or form "saves babies". And you have the nerve to decry people "emotionally manipulating the process" with their tear-jerking testimony? BULLSHIT!
  • by Jhon ( 241832 ) * on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @03:17PM (#20468225) Homepage Journal

    An embryo would NOT become a human on its own, and this is why we do not treat it as a human. On its own, an embryo stops growing and developing, almost immediately.
    An infant would NOT become a human on its own, and this is why we do not treat it as a human. On its own, an infant stops growing and devoloping, almost immediately.

UNIX enhancements aren't.