By Kritika Sehgal
As the year 2013 ends, 2014 brings a new ray of hope for all those who are on the heart transplant waiting list and in the search of a new life. Well the future definitely has something good in store for us!
Doris Taylor, director of regenerative medicine research at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston has been working on the problem of a heart transplant. More than 3,200 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant in the United States. Some won’t survive the wait and for the lucky ones who do find a new heart, their body might not accept it. Last year, 340 patients died before a new heart was found.
As technology and research advances, the scenario won’t be the same long. Dr. Doris Taylor as found a very innovative and easy way to provide people who are in search of a new heart.
She has invented the “ghost heart” as they call it, which is rather scary.What she does is very interesting. She takes a pig heart, soaks it in an ingredient commonly found in shampoo and washes away the cells until she is left with a protein scaffold -that is to a heart what two-by-four framing is to a house.
Then she injects that “ghost heart”, with hundreds of millions of blood or bone-marrow stem cells from a person who needs a heart transplant, place it in a bioreactor (box with artificial lungs and tubes that pump oxygen and blood into it) and wait as the ghost heart begins to mature into a new, beating human heart.
She has been working on this – first using rat hearts, then pig hearts and human hearts – for years.
She has grown rat and pig hearts, but not human hearts — yet. That’s her goal.
Researchers believe the human hearts, just like the animal ones, won’t be rejected because they’ll be custom-made using the recipient’s stem cells. That means future transplant patients won’t have to take anti-rejection medication and won’t have to put up with the side effects that accompany those drugs: an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney failure. They won’t have to undergo dozens of heart biopsies. And they won’t have to worry about the pain, time and expense of a second transplant. “And the nice thing about this technology,” Taylor says, “is that it will work with any organ or tissue. So it’s not just about hearts. Kidneys, livers, lungs, pancreases. They’ll be growing those, too. “
She is very excited and delightful about her project because it will prove to be a boon for many. Her confidence and hard work does seem promising, and with her efforts, the day of “new hope and life” is not far.one day organ transplant won’t be as problematic and as time consuming as it presently is.
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