Heart Patches – A Revolution in Heart Healing
Weighing about 10 ounces, beating 72 times a minute and pumping 2,000 gallons of blood every day, our heart is an incredible organ. However, when it goes through an attack, it falls flat. Heart disease is a chief cause of death for both women and men. A number of people on this earth are living with heart failure. But scientists have never given up. They are up to fixing these failed hearts.
In a recent interview with ABC30, Charles Murry, MD, PhD, who is Professor of Pathology, Bioengineering, and Medicine/Cardiology, Murry Lab, University of Washington Medicine, told that researchers are finding a new way to repair hearts.
Heart is very poor at self-repair and is one of the least regenerative body parts. The idea of UW researchers is to use stem cells so that they can re-muscularize the heart actually after it is injured. First they position embryonic stem cells together with other special cells in a petridish to allow them to grow and divide.
James Fugate, the Lab Manager/Research Scientist, Murray Lab, told that the petri dish gets spontaneously beating human heart muscles in about 2 weeks!
These are then put into a matrix where they form a heart patch.
Dr. Murry informed that these patches can be attached to the surface of the heart, like a muscular Band-Aid.
The heart patch helps cells create new tissue in the heart. It is possible to use it in patients who have suffered a heart attack or heart failure.
The heart patch is being further studied in the lab on animals, where it has been observed to prevent heart failure after a heart attack in monkeys, beating 120 times per minute. The same results are expected in humans and if they do, it will revolutionize the way our most precious organ heals.
Researchers need to overcome one of the major problems in this therapy of human immune system rejecting the embryonic cell transplant and this can be done only by taking medications for the rest of the life, at this stage of the research. Researchers hope that one day they well create new tissues from the patient’s own cells.