Tiny lab-grown heart beats on its own

By August 21, 2013 8 Comments

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 14.57.09Scientists in the University of Pittsburgh have grown a tiny heart that beats on its own.

The researchers took a mouse heart from which everything had been removed but the basic structure and laid onto it cardiovascular cells developed from human induced stem cells. The human cells specialized into endothelial (or lining) cells, smooth muscle cells and muscle contractile cells. The resulting heart beat on its own and responded to medications.

The beat was irregular and the heart was small so there is still a long way to go before lab grown hearts can replace human transplants, but the day when we will be able to is clearly getting closer. Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer and it is technologies like this will enable radical life extension, most likely in our lifetimes.

Interestingly, most people say they don’t want to live much longer. Assuming no degradation in quality of life I am all up for living much longer. There is so much to do.