Cardiac muscles cultivated in the laboratory were transplanted in humans for the first time

Researchers from the University of Osaka, Japan, have announced that they have successfully performed the very first transplant of heart muscles grown in the laboratory. Rather than replacing the entire heart of their patient, the scientists placed biodegradable leaves containing heart muscle cells on the damaged areas of the heart. If the rest of this procedure goes as planned, it could possibly eliminate the need for full heart transplants for many cases.

To grow heart muscle cells in the laboratory, the team used the patient's induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). These are stem cells that researchers create on the basis of a sample of cells (often from the skin or blood) and by reprogramming them in their embryonic pluripotent state.

At this point, they can inspire iSP cells to become “the type of cell they want”. In the case of this Japanese study, the researchers created heart muscle cells from iSP cells before placing them on thin biodegradable leaves.

The patient who received the transplant has ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart has trouble pumping blood because the muscles are not getting enough.

Regenerate heart cells to avoid heart transplant

In severe cases, this condition may require a heart transplant. And that's where the Osaka University team comes in. The researchers believe that the muscle cells placed on the leaf, secreting a protein, can help regenerate blood vessels, thereby improving the patient's heart function. Sufficient regeneration to avoid heart transplantation.

Yoshiki Sawa, a professor in the cardiovascular surgery unit at Osaka University, held a press conference on Monday in Suita (Osaka) concerning the very first transplantation of heart muscle cells created from induced pluripotent stem cells. Credits: KYODO

The researchers plan to monitor the patient for a year, and they hope to perform the same procedure on nine other people with the same disease over the next three years.

If clinical trials go ahead as planned, the procedure could become an essential alternative to heart transplants. Not only is it much easier to get iPS cells than finding an appropriate donor heart, but a recipient's immune system is also more likely to tolerate stem cells rather than a new organ.

"I hope that (stem cell transplant) will become medical technology that will save as many people as possible, because I have met many patients that I have not been able to save," researcher Yoshiki sawa told The Japan Times. at the press conference.

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