Tissue engineering a heart is easy!

First, you need a donor heart. This can come from humans but scientists currently agree that in fact pigs may be more suitable donors! They carry all of the necessary components of the extracellular matrix without being prone to human disease.

Next, detergents are pumped into the aorta.These flow through the existing blood vessels and begin the process of decellurising the organ and removing antigens – the cause of organ rejection. The decellurised heart provides a protein scaffold to be recellurised with the cells and DNA of the recipient.

Then endothelial precursor cells are pumped into the blood vessels and the muscle spaces. Precursor cells, or unipotent stem cells, are cells which have been partially differentiated – ie it has the potential to differentiat into a mature mature endothelial cell, the cells that comprise blood vessels.

Now that the scaffold is ‘primed’ with these cells it receieves a combination of electrical stimulation and nutrients which cause it to mature and proceed down a proper developmental pathway.

All going well, you should have a heart ready for donation within weeks which should function perfectly without any chance of rejection. Simple!

The video here goes into some sweet detail.

Have you heard the one about the duckling with the prosthetic foot?

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More info: http://www.nature.com/news/tissue-engineering-how-to-build-a-heart-1.13327

About the author: Conor Hughes works as a Marketing Executive at Life Science Recruitment

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