More than 22 million people have heart failure. Even with the major advances in treatment for heat failure, over 50 percent of these people die within five years or learning of the condition.
Dr. Doris Taylor, the Medtronic-Bakken Chair in Cardiac Repair and the Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota , is researching another alternative. She researches using stem cells, genes, and devices to create new cardiac and vascular technologies. What Dr. Taylor and her team have been able to do is to strip a rat’s heart of all cells and then to put the living cells from a healthy rat back into it. The new cells divide and can create the tissues needed to reform the heart and, miraculously, the new heart starts beating.
She is next trying to test the technique in human trials. The goal is to replace all the cells in a donor heart with those of the patient’s cells. When the old cells are removed, there is a extracellular structure left to use as the building structure. This technique, if successful, will promise to help keep patients from rejecting the new hearts. It also promises to make more hearts available for transplant.
For more information, go the video “Creating a New Heart in the Lab” at: