Future of heart medicine: Stem cells to grow cardiac muscle and smaller medical implants

| | December 8, 2017

If heart transplantation – 50 years after Christiaan Barnard carried out the first operation – has become routine, what exactly will medicine be capable of in the future? Will we one day be able to build, or even grow, replacement hearts, or will surgeons be able to use genetically modified animal hearts in their place?

New techniques are badly needed because the number of donor organs – about 200 per year in the UK – is dwarfed by demand. About 2,000 people under the age of 65 a year will die of heart failure without a transplant. One option researchers hope to develop is to use stem cells to grow new cardiac muscle.

An alternative to growing new hearts is to refine devices that can keep a patient alive until they can have a transplant. In recent years, the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) – an artificial pump that helps the left side of the heart do its job – has shrunk from a large external piece of kit to a tiny battery-operated device that can be implanted into the chest.

The key to the future is not likely to be any single technology, but a combination of all of them. But if the past 50 years have taught us anything at all, it is that things that seem impossible today will become the medicine of tomorrow.

Read full, original post: What will medicine be able to do with hearts?

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2 thoughts on “Future of heart medicine: Stem cells to grow cardiac muscle and smaller medical implants”

  1. Based on what was was discussed, it can be stated that the future of medical treatments stand not only on the shoulders of stem cells, but mechanical advancements in the medical field.

    With regards to organ replacement, both options do not seem to compete with each other , rather compliment each other in a way that allows users to benefit from both, without having to deal with the individual shortcomings of the other.

    New techniques are badly needed because the number of donor organs – about 200 per year in the UK – is dwarfed by demand. About 2,000 people under the age of 65 a year will die of heart failure without a transplant.

    One option researchers hope to develop is to use stem cells to grow new cardiac muscle.

    Dr Doris Taylor, director of the Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology says: “If we want to build a whole heart, that takes hundreds of billions of cells.” This at first sounds like a difficult task, but with modern advancement This can be achieved much faster than ever before. Even so, there is a long way to go. This is where technology comes into play. The article shows that the heart can be assisted when weak by devices such as the left ventricular assistance device which assist pumping blood in weak hearts. When we can back and see the exciting progress made in the field simular to this , the transplanting animal organs into humans. This practice at the time, seemed barbaric, much like the debate of stem cell research being done today. One can only speculate the future of stem cell research. For now we can only begin to research and understand the possibilities. What the future holds for the field is anyone’s speculation. It may hold endless possibly and could not have been done without the men and women who pioneered the field, but it will be done without them.

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