Bone marrow stem cells have been used to create heart valve cells, raising hopes that an entire heart could be grown from stem cells within 10 years. British heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, of Imperial College London, extracted stem cells from bone marrow, cultivated them into heart valve cells, and the placed them on biodegradable “scaffolds”. They grew into 3cm wide disks of heart valve tissue. Later in the year, the valves will be tested on animals.Growing heart valves is a big step forward in scientists’ efforts to grow whole organs from stem cells. They have already grown tendons, cartilages and bladders from adult stem cells.
Sir Magdi said the possibility of growing an entire heart was “an ambitious project but not impossible”. “If you wanted me to guess, I’d say ten years,” he said. “But experience has shown that progress that is happening nowadays make it possible to achieve milestones in a shorter time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was sometime sooner than we think.” Daily Mail, Apr 5