In what is a world-first and potentially the dawn of a new medical technology to treat damaged hearts, scientists in Japan have succeeded in transplanting lab-grown heart cells into a human patient for the first time ever.
The procedure involved harnessing the incredible potential of induced pluripotent stem cells, which are cells taken from the patient that have been reprogrammed to become stem cells that can develop into any type of cell found in the human body.
The heart muscle cells were put into degradable “muscle sheets” and used with the intent of helping repair damaged tissue. The patient who received the transplant was suffering from ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition where heart muscles stop working properly due to clotted arteries.
In some cases, such patients require a heart transplant which can be an extremely difficult experience because of long waiting lists, and the surgery involving a high risk. But if things go as planned, the novel procedure could prevent patients from having to undergo such difficulties, since the cells that are used are the patient’s own, making it very unlikely for the body to reject them.
If this transplant successfully heals the damaged tissue this patient is dealing with, it seems likely this technique could be used to help repair many other organs that have been damaged in some way. Instead of people having to rely on donors to get a transplant, they could just use their own cells to help themselves heal and extend their lifespan.