A rat heart in three stages of decellularization. In the left photo, the heart chambers are labelled. Ao: aorta. LV: left ventricle. RV: right ventricle. LA: left atrium. RA: right atrium. Middle Photo: arrows indicate the border between areas where cells remain (pink) and where they have been removed (white). Right photo: The heart matrix after all cells have been removed. (Photo: Thomas Matthiesen)
Professor Doris Taylor and her group at the University of Minnesota Center for Cardiovascular Repair have created a beating heart from shell of a dead one:
Using a process called decellularisation, the researchers grew functioning heart tissue from dead rat and pig hearts.
Decellularisation is the process of killing all the cells in an organ, in this case an animal cadaver heart, and preserving the architecture of the organ such as the chambers, valves and blood vessel structure.
Taylor says she knew decellularisation had been used in making tissue heart valves and blood vessels and decided to try it on whole organs.
"We hung these organs in the lab and we washed out all the cells. When you are done, you have this thing that looks like a ghost tissue," Taylor says.
The research team then repopulated the "ghost tissue" with new heart cells taken from newborn and neonatal rats, fed them a nutrient-rich solution and left them in the laboratory to grow.
Four days later, the hearts started to contract albeit at 2% capacity of normal functioning hearts.
"The hope would be we could generate an organ that matched your body," she said.
The results are available online in the latest edition of the journal Nature Medicine, and explores the growing trend toward research and development in tailor-made organs for transplant using stem cells.
It also gives a chance for the evil Queen to finally get Snow White's heart in a glass jar.
Link (Image: UMN NEws)