Closer To An Artificial, Organic Heart
This whole human heart was stripped of cells, leaving behind a “structural scaffold” of connective tissue, which was then partially re-seeded with human heart-like cells grown in the laboratory from skin cells.
(Structural scaffold of human heart)
If researchers can re-seed this structural scaffold with viable heart-like cells from the patient who will receive the heart (steps 2 and 3 below), the engineered heart would have the potential to reduce the risk of rejection and the resulting need for long-term immunosuppressive treatment...
The team generated the heart-like muscle cells from reprogrammed skin cells. Once they had checked the quality of these cells, they grew them in the laboratory for several days and showed that the cells developed into tissue that spontaneously contracted like heart cells...
The final challenge was developing an automated bioreactor system capable of supporting a whole human heart while the re-seeded heart cells take hold.*** In this initial study, the researchers only partially re-seeded the scaffold — many more cells would be needed to totally re-populate a functioning heart scaffold.
After incubating the engineered heart in the bioreactor, the researchers showed that the regenerated tissue behaved like immature cardiac muscle tissue that was able to contract in response to electrical stimulation.
We're getting closer and closer to a vision of the future seen in this 1969 masterpiece - Ubik. In it, Philip K. Dick introduced the idea of implanting secondary artificial organic organs - perhaps smaller versions of the originals as backup.
Probably Runciter's body contained a dozen artiforgs, artificial organs grafted into place in his physiological apparatus as the genuine, original ones, failed.
(Read more about Dick's artiforgs)
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