Got a Bad Heart? Grow Another One

Apr 19, 2016

Human Myocardium on native extra cellular matrix.
Credit American Heart Association / Daily Beast

A new scientific paper has proposed a potential future solution to the more than half a million people who die every year in the US from heart failure. Though it may sound like science fiction, humans may one day be able to grow new tickers when the old ones go bad.

The Daily Beast reports that a team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Regenerative Medicine has come up with an outlandish idea that’s actually feasible. In their study, published this week in the journal Circulation Research, the team reprogrammed skin cells into stem cells, and were thus able to generate functional heart tissue.

The process would eliminate the need for perfect match donors. The new experiment built on previous studies using rats. To generate a new heart, researchers use what’s called a scaffold to give it shape.

This is great news for the five million people in the United States with heart failure—half of whom will die within five years of diagnosis.