Breakthrough: Scientists are hopeful their artificial heart will be beating within days
Scientists are growing human hearts in laboratories, offering hope for millions of cardiac patients.
American researchers believe the artificial organs could start beating within weeks.
The experiment is a major step towards the first ‘grow-your-own’ heart, and could pave the way for livers, lungs or kidneys to be made to order.
The organs were created by removing muscle cells from donor organs to leave behind tough hearts of connective tissue.
Researchers then injected stem cells which multiplied and grew around the structure, eventually turning into healthy heart cells.
Dr Doris Taylor, an expert in regenerative medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said: ‘The hearts are growing, and we hope they will show signs of beating within the next weeks.
‘There are many hurdles to overcome to generate a fully functioning heart, but my prediction is that it may one day be possible to grow entire organs for transplant.’
Patients given normal heart transplants must take drugs to suppress their immune systems for the rest of their lives.
This can increase the risk of high blood pressure, kidney failure and diabetes.
If new hearts could be made using a patient’s own stem cells, it is less likely they would be rejected.