Saturday, April 16, 2011

To grow a heart...

Jenny sent me this a while ago. But I've been thinking more and more about it recently.

Whether you watch the video they have or not does not matter, because I'm going to basically repeat it anyways.

So, they took a heart (rat I believe) and de-celled it. Meaning they used a solution to dissolve all the cells of the heart and take them out, leaving only the extracellular matrix outside it. Then they proceeded to add some newly created stem cells (omgosh I want to learn how to make...) of another animal (of the same species) into the outlinings of the heart.

And a heart grew. And it actually started pumping.

This of course opens the idea of organ transplant using one's own DNA to create said organ! And in this case we won't be making any special clone as is told by much sci-fi or breaking any big ethical code... right?

Actually I was mulling this over for a bit, I feel like there has to be SOMETHING wrong with it... but then again this technique seems pretty clean. All you need is an extracellular matrix... and well I'm certain that some donor will provide one and then all that needs to be done is find a way to create more. I suppose that would be the hard part but then the extracellular matrix is made of chemicals and macromolecules secreted by the cells around it. So basically simply remove the fully made heart along with a minor bit of the ECM to use for the next round, the fully formed heart for the second round will rebuild the bit of ECM that was lost when the first heart was removed. Makes sense right?

Of course this is all just me blabbing here, removing a heart from its ECM without destroy the ECM is actually pretty hard I would imagine... that's where the bio-engineers ought to come in. Ahh how I love the engineers and physicists, they make it so easy for the biologists to do crazy experiments with life.

But of course, perhaps there is some big ethical issue here that I'm overlooking... but it's all for the sake of human lives... I swear... that and the fact that I enjoy messing w/these ideas.

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