For the millions of patients worldwide who are waiting for a heart transplant, a new breakthrough in stem cell cultivation promises a potential long-term solution to the challenge of shortages among available transplantable hearts and other organs.
Scientists have applied stem cells in a lab to grow a living human heart
, according to a report in the Daily Mail
With an estimated 5.8 million people in the United States alone experiencing heart failure, and new studies emerging on the impact of surgical intervention
in many cases, according to the Columbus Dispatch
, any increase in readily available hearts would have a dramatic impact on overall longevity.
The American Heart Association estimates that 81.1 million Americans
were impacted by some form of cardiovascular disease in 2006. Given these figures, an ability to farm hearts from stem cells would offer staggering health benefits for a large swath of the US population.
However, while the news offers hope to the many patients suffering with heart disease, the ability to grow hearts from stem cells remains in its early stages.
"The hearts are growing, and we hope they will show signs of beating within the next weeks," Dr Doris Taylor, an expert in regenerative medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, told the Daily Mail
. "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."