Minggu, 13 Januari 2008

A Beating Heart is Created in the Laboratory

University of Minnesota researchers have succeeded in producing a beating rat heart in the laboratory. In their experiments, the researchers first removed all the heart cells from a dead rat heart by dissolving them away with a strong detergent, leaving just a scaffold of connective tissue and heart valves. Then they infused cells harvested from the heart of a newborn rat. Within two weeks a new beating heart developed.

The research marks a significant advance in our understanding of what it would take to grow human hearts. However, scientists caution that the ability to produce human hearts for implantation still may be decades away. First, it will have to be shown that the technique can be adapted to larger animals. And second, methods will have to be developed to create the hearts from stem cells rather than cells from a newborn. Obviously, no one would sacrifice a human newborn just to produce a new heart for an adult!

Nevertheless, this is an encouraging first step.

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