I thought this might be of interest to the group.
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BBC News Monday, 2 April 2007
British scientists have grown part of a human heart from stem cells
for the first time.
Heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, who led the team, said doctors could
be using artificially grown heart components in transplants within
three years. His researchers at Harefield hospital managed to grow
tissue that works in the same way as human heart valves. Sir Magdi
told the Guardian newspaper a whole heart could be produced from stem
cells within 10 years.
The team who spent 10 years working on the project included
physicists, pharmacologists, clinicians and cellular scientists.
Researchers will see their achievement as a major step towards growing
entire organs for transplant. Stem cells have the potential to turn
into many different types of cell. Many scientists believe it should
be possible to harness the cells' ability to grow into different
tissues to repair damage and treat disease. Previously, scientists
have grown tendons, cartilages and bladders, which are all less
complex. Sir Magdi, professor of cardiac surgery at Imperial College
London, had been working on ways to address a shortage of donated
hearts for patients.
Entire heart hope
He said he hoped that soon an entire heart could be grown from stem
cells. He added: "It is an ambitious project but not impossible. If
you want me to guess I'd say 10 years." His team extracted stem cells
from bone marrow and cultivated them into heart valve cells. After
they were placed in scaffolds formed from collagen, 3cm-wide discs of
heart valve tissue were formed. Later in the year, these will be
implanted into animals such as sheep or pigs to see how well they
Dr Stephen Minger, a stem cell expert at London's King's College, said
Sir Magdi's team were at the forefront of tissue engineering for
cardiac disease. "If the valves they've engineered prove successful in
experimental animals, this could open the door to generating complex
tissues from stem cells for a wide variety of clinical application.
"But as they stress, this is very preliminary work and the direct
translation to human is still some way off in the future."