We just took natures own building blocks to build a new organ, said Harald C. Ott, M.D., co-investigator of the study and a former research associate in the center for cardiovascular repair, who now works at Massachusetts General Hospital. When we saw the first contractions we were speechless.
Researchers are optimistic this discovery could help increase the donor organ pool.
In general, the supply of donor organs is limited and once a heart is transplanted, individuals face life-long immunosuppression, often trading heart failure for high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney failure, Taylor said.
Researchers hope that the decellularization process could be used to make new donor organs. Because a new heart could be filled with the recipients cells, researchers hypothesize its 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.
We used immature heart cells in this version, as a proof of concept. We pretty much figured heart cells in a heart matrix had to work, Taylor said. Going forward, our goal is to use a patients stem cells to build a new heart.
Although heart repair was the first goal during research, decellularization shows promising potential to change how scientists think about engineering organs, Taylor said. It opens a door to this notion that you can make any organ: kidney, liver, lung, pancreas you name it and we hope we can make it, she said.
|Contact: Nick Hanson|
University of Minnesota