October 07, 2009
Tissue Engineers Develop Implantable Heart Muscle Patches

The reason cars can keep running indefinitely is because their worn out parts can be replaced. By contrast, we have very limited abilities to replace worn out human parts. The development of tissue engineering techniques for growing an implanting replacement parts holds the promise of making humans as repairable as cars. Some University of Washington researchers have developed human heart muscle patches that include blood vessels that allow larger patches to be grown.

University of Washington (UW) researchers have succeeded in engineering human tissue patches free of some problems that have stymied stem-cell repair for damaged hearts.

The disk-shaped patches can be fabricated in sizes ranging from less than a millimeter to a half-inch in diameter. Until now, engineering tissue for heart repair has been hampered by cells dying at the transplant core, because nutrients and oxygen reached the edges of the patch but not the center. To make matters worse, the scaffolding materials to position the cells often proved to be harmful.

The researchers were able to grow blood vessels along with the muscle. Then when they transplanted the tissue patches into rats the blood vessels in the patches formed connections with the blood vessels in the rats.

Stevens and her fellow researchers added two other types of cells to the heart muscle cell mixture. These were cells similar to those that line the inside of blood vessels and cells that provide the vessel's muscular support. All of the heart muscle cells were derived from embryonic stem cells, while the vascular cells were derived from embryonic stem cells or a variety of more mature sources such as the umbilical cord. The resulting cell mixture began forming a tissue containing tiny blood vessels.

Better techniques for tissue engineering are key to the development of human replacement parts. Replacement parts are key to human rejuvenation and the reversal of the aging process. Tissue engineering is more than just stem cell research (as important as that is). Tissue engineering involves the development of the ability to grow organized complex 3 dimensional groupings of cells that form a part equivalent to some existing part in our bodies.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 October 07 11:18 PM  Biotech Tissue Engineering

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