In a first of its kind attempt, Japanese researchers from the Osaka University have announced the successful completion of a heart transplant using lab-grown heart muscles.
The researchers used lab-grown heart muscles housed in degradable sheets to treat a patient’s damaged heart. Usually, the heart has to be replaced by a new one during such procedures. If the new method achieves its desired result the need for transplantation will be eliminated.
The team used induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to create these lab-grown heart muscles. iPS cells are taken from adults, often from their skin or blood and then reprogrammed to their embryonic-like pluripotent state. In this state, the iPS cells can turn into any kind of cells.
The Japanese researchers in their study used the iPS cells to create heart muscle cells. The patient who received the new treatment was suffering from a condition called ischemic cardiomyopathy. In this condition, a person’s heart has trouble pumping as its muscles don’t receive enough blood.
The researchers expect muscle cells on the sheets to secrete proteins into the heart that helps regenerate blood vessels, thereby improving the patient’s heart function. The patient will be monitored by the team for one year to fully understand how successful the treatment is. They are hoping to conduct the procedure in nine more people.
If their final results are positive that will be revolutionary for heart patients. Heart transplantation is a tedious surgical process and its very difficult to find a suitable donor heart. Compared to that harvest iPS cells is something much easier to. Also, the human body is more likely to tolerate a few new cells than an entirely new organ.