Heart created in University of Minnesota lab

Decellularization: A rat heart as the cells are removed (left three images) and replaced (right two images) over time.
Decellularization: A rat heart as the cells are removed (left three images) and replaced (right two images) over time.Courtesy Thomas Matthiesen, University of Minnesota

Science fiction?
Did you know that nearly 5 million people live with heart failure? More surprisingly, approximately 50,000 United States patients die annually waiting for a donor heart.

University of Minnesota researchers recently announced they have created a beating heart in the laboratory. It sounds like science fiction, but it is a real medical breakthrough. The researchers removed the tissue from a dead rat heart and replaced it with living cells from newborn rats. With the help of electrical signals, the entire heart began to beat.

"Ghost hearts"
The researchers used a detergent to remove the cells from the rat hearts. This left behind only the nonliving fibers that give the heart its shape. The result was a white, rubbery, 3-D “skeleton”. This structure, called the extracellular matrix, allows cells to attach and grow into tissue, and gives the heart muscle something to pull against. The researchers injected cells from newborn rats into the left ventricle and pumped oxygen and nutrients through the structure of blood vessels. They helped the process by sending electrical signals through the new tissue. In eight days, the hearts were pumping – some continued beating for 40 days.

The supply of donor organs is limited and the risks for infection or rejection of the transplanted organ can be high. If the technique is perfected, doctors may be able to use patients’ own stem cells to recellularize a donor heart.

The next steps
The University of Minnesota research team has successfully decellularized pig hearts, and hopes that other types of organs can be created in the future.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

peppermind's picture
peppermind says:

It should be mentioned that it is not necessary to use a human donors heart as a matrix, in fact, the heart of a pig could be sufficient. The pig cells are removed and the human cells enter. It would also be nice to say which "detergent" is used to remove the cells...

posted on Wed, 01/23/2008 - 5:18am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Thanks for the info. You and just a couple other blogs on the web (such as my own http://www.bioartificialhearts.com) are the only ones covering this, so kudos!

posted on Sat, 01/26/2008 - 12:33am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

which detergents are used

posted on Sun, 02/10/2008 - 6:06am
hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

are they ging to make a human heart too?

posted on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:45am
nelson.robin's picture
nelson.robin says:

that would be so amazing if they could make a human heart

posted on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 6:46pm
tiffany_88's picture
tiffany_88 says:

wow the science and scientifics are so smart, thanks for help and give the hope to people how need a heart and with this news give hopeful...

posted on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 8:20pm
Gaby's picture
Gaby says:

It is almost sickening, how so many lives are lost during only the prosses of waiting for a heart transplant. Thankfuly, with this scintific brake through many more lives can be saved before the NEVER ending wait arrives.

posted on Fri, 05/25/2012 - 8:31pm
Layba's picture
Layba says:

Wow, this is amazing. Will a rat heart work in the human body? After all they work similarly, by circulating blood, throughout the body. If this is successful, heart donor would be so much easier.

posted on Sat, 05/26/2012 - 10:16am
Rashadah's picture
Rashadah says:

I believe that creating a heart can change
millions of lives throughout the world. It will
be challenging but this is an opportunity to
make a difference.

posted on Mon, 05/28/2012 - 9:34pm

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