‘Ghost Heart,’ a Framework for Growing New Human Hearts
‘Ghost Heart,’ a Framework for Growing New Human Hearts, Could be Answer for Thousands Waiting for New Heart
The problem: More than 3,200 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant in the United States. Some won’t survive the wait. Last year, 340 died before a new heart was found.
The solution: Take a pig heart, soak it in an ingredient commonly found in shampoo and wash away the cells until you’re left with a protein scaffold that is to a heart what two-by-four framing is to a house.
Then inject that ghost heart, as it’s called, with hundreds of millions of blood or bone-marrow stem cells from a person who needs a heart transplant, place it in a bioreactor — a 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.
Doris Taylor, director of regenerative medicine research at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, 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. (Read More)