Magazine article Science News

Phoenix Heart: Replacing a Heart's Cells Could Ease Transplants

Magazine article Science News

Phoenix Heart: Replacing a Heart's Cells Could Ease Transplants

Article excerpt

In a step toward growing complex organs for transplants, researchers have stripped all the cells from dead rat hearts and injected the gelatinous empty structures with living heart cells from newborn rats. Eight days later, the repopulated hearts were beating, albeit feebly.

Eventually, doctors might be able to use this approach to make new hearts or other organs for transplantation by growing a patient's own cells inside a hollowed-out organ from a pig or cadaver. Because the cells are derived from the patient, his or her body would be less likely to reject the organ.


Such reconstructed organs, however, are still years away, the researchers caution.

Animal tissues denuded of cells are already commercially available for transplant into people, but these tissues are only pieces of organs, such as heart valves. The new research marks the first time that scientists have swapped out cells in an entire heart.

A team led by Doris A. Taylor of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis took hearts from rats that had been dead for less than 18 hours, and flushed them with a liquid detergent. The detergent gradually broke up the dead cells and rinsed them away, leaving behind translucent, heart-shaped masses of collagen and other proteins that normally surround heart cells and hold them together.

The resulting cellfree heart served as a three-dimensional scaffolding in which the new cells could grow. Providing a good 3-D framework has been one of the major challenges for scientists trying to grow replacement tissues and organs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.