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Can Scientists Grow a Human Heart with Stem Cells?

By Melissa Hill, 9:00 am on

Patients needing transplant surgery are often left waiting on lengthy lists for a donor until it is too late. This reality is one of the reasons why researchers have spent so much time and effort to find ways to create organs that would be functional in a human body. Stem cell research, though often controversial, has provided positive results unlike any other method so far. In fact, researchers believe a recent study involving stem cells will give hope to live-in Oklahoma caregivers and the seniors they care for.

The experiment used human hearts that for various reasons were not viable as transplants. Any cells that might have rejected new cells were removed and the basic structure of the heart was retained. Stem cells were added to the hearts where they were allowed to grow to generate new tissue that is compatible with the recipient. Stem cells are what are known as a primitive cell that has not yet formed into a specific type of cell. This allows them to be grown into any type of cell that is desired by doctors.

The process began several years ago using the hearts of mice and replicating their cells. After this experiment proved successful, the researchers decided to take the experiment further to recreate the procedure on a human heart.

It took only two weeks for the developing hearts to reach the point where they began beating when electrically stimulated. The hearts produced were immature and not able to be used as transplants, but they provided proof that the process was possible. In order to be successful, the researchers are now looking for methods that would allow the cardiac cells to multiply and grow faster.

The structure of the heart has been fully mapped and used to create the scaffolding of the heart valves and chambers with 3D printers. The potential of creating an entire human heart from this type of structure covered with cardiovascular cells generated from stem cells is exciting for medical professionals and Oklahoma home care providers alike. It means the need for donor hearts could diminish, or eventually disappear and eliminate the frustration of being placed on a waiting list. In addition, the cells are unlikely to be rejected by the body, something that 25 percent of all heart transplant patients are at risk of even a year after surgery has been performed.

Living with and managing heart disease puts a lot of strain on seniors, but Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma can make the process easier. Our highly trained caregivers help seniors with cardiovascular disease by promoting nutritious diet and regular exercise, in addition to offering prescription pick-ups and medication reminders. We also provide comprehensive stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care Oklahoma families can trust to help seniors manage and recover from illness or injury. Learn more when you call a knowledgeable Care Manager at 405-285-4191 today to schedule a free in-home consultation.