Science is both thinking with its head and with its heart these days. The need for thousands of donor hearts may be close to an idea of the past. On an average, 22 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs and about 9.1 percent of transplants taken place in 2015 were for heart eligible. In a world where more than half of critical patients will not receive the transplant they need, diligent scientists and researchers continue to use their findings to further the success of future heart transplants. The scarce amount of usable hearts for the some 4,154 candidates on the waiting list and the plausible rejection from the new host body, have brought major concern among the medical community for years.
Monumental studies by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have brought to light the new practice of using patient familiar pluripotent stem cells to support heart advancement.
The “heart wants what it wants,” right? Finding that a great deal of worry still lay in the possible rejection of the foreign donor heart, the scientists used their previous lab research of similar form. Using a detergent solution they stripped a group of donor organs from cells that might set off an immune response in the recipient. With the use of adult skin cells and messenger RNA they were able to turn the cells into pluripotent stem cells able to cultivate into two different types of cardiac cells including cardiomyocytes.
After evaluating the potential performance of the cardiac matrix organs, they infused the organs with the new generated cells for close testing. Two weeks of scrutinized study and viable conditions of normal heart function successfully displayed that fresh and functional human heart tissue had been produced. Finally, testing the organs with electric shock, scientists found the hearts to actually start beating once more.
The overwhelmingly positive study suggested that if original human skin cells from the actual recipient were used in transplant scenarios, similar to those in the study, the chance of success would greatly increase. The human body would cease immune fire, so to speak. Scientists’ main focus on the subject, following such a success, is to continue to master ways to produce even more cardiac cells for future experimentation. While completely growing lab generated hearts is still a hope of the future, this new development sets our medical community at an extremely increased advantage. As research pushes to the future so does the health of our nation.