September 03, 2007
Replacement Heart Valves Grown From Own Cells In 5 Years?

British scientist Simon Hoeurstrup and heart surgeon Magdi Yacoub claim that in 3 to 5 years they will be able to grow replacement heart valves from a patient's own bone marrow stem cells.

In the tissue engineering approach favored by Yacoub and Hoerstrup, the patient's own stem cells -- taken from bone marrow -- are isolated and expanded in the laboratory using standard cell culture techniques.

They are then "seeded" onto a special matrix in the shape of a heart valve that is positioned in a device called a "bioreactor" that tricks the cells into growing in the right shape.

They've already tested this technique with sheep cells.

One problem with extracting bone marrow stem cells comes with age. Potential leukemia replacement cell donors are screened for age. People in their 60s aren't considered good bone marrow cell donors. Well, stem cells extracted from older people to grow heart valves might grow poorly. But given that the extracted cells won't be reimplanted the development of techniques to stimulate those cells (e.g. lengthen their telomeres) more rapidly would pose few risks.

As biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey points out once we can grow replacement parts we can keep our bodies youthful for many centuries.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 September 03 04:21 PM  Biotech Tissue Engineering

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