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Monday, January 14, 2008

Transplant almost from scratch...

Hopes of custom-built organs as scientists create beating heartSarah-Kate Templeton, Health Editor

SCIENTISTS have created a beating heart in the laboratory in a breakthrough that could allow doctors one day to make a range of organs for transplant almost from scratch.

The procedure involved stripping all the existing cells from a dead heart so that only the protein “skeleton” that created its shape was left.

Then the skeleton was seeded with live “progenitor” cells, which multiplied and grew back over it, eventually linking together into a new organ. Such cells are involved in the formative stages of specialised types of tissue such as those found in the heart.

The research, by scientists at the University of Minnesota, has so far been done only with rats and pigs and is highly experimental. It is unlikely to be applied to humans for years.

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