Thursday, November 16, 2006

Uterine Tissue Factories

Imagine growing artifical heart valves in utero from stem cells floating about in amniotic fluid within the womb. Incredible? Or what about artificial bladders or blood vessels. Well, it has been done. Reported yesterday at the American Heart Association meeting:
Scientists for the first time have grown human heart valves using stem cells from the fluid that cushions babies in the womb -- offering a revolutionary approach that may be used to repair defective hearts in the future.

The idea is to create new valves in the lab while the pregnancy progresses and have them ready to implant in a baby with heart defects after it is born.

The Swiss experiment follows recent success growing bladders and blood vessels and suggests people may one day be able to grow their own replacement heart parts -- in some cases, before they're born.
The era of stem cell therapy is here. Little uterine tissue factories will soon the churning throughout the globe. Perhaps not first in humans. No, it will probably be done in dogs or rabbits first:
...Japanese researchers said they had grown new heart valves in rabbits using cells from the animals' own tissue. It is the first time replacement heart valves have been created in this manner, said lead author Dr. Kyoko Hayashida.
But it's just a matter of time.

And millions will be better for it.


1 comment:

Judy said...

I'd read about the bladders, but the rest is amazing!

Perhaps the best thing about this particular sort of stem cell research is that there is no controversy.