If a heart malfunctions, we wait for a transfer from someone who’s recently passed away. According to Unos,
- Every ten minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list.
- 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant.
And the people who do receive the transplants have a chance of the body rejecting the organ and set up an immune reaction against foreign cells.
A Little Progress
In 2016, Popular Science released an incredible article. Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have used adult skin cells to regenerate working human heart tissue. They hope that this will lead to further innovation that will allow scientists to grow entire hearts from the patients’ own tissues.
The cool part is that they were able to convert adult skin cells, using a messenger RNA, into pluripotent skin cells. These cells are vital for any of this to be successful. These are the types of cells we need more of. They basically are blank cells that can transform into any type of cell. In this research, the scientists used the cells to become cardiac. They used nutrient solution to help stabilize the cells.
But it might not be too farfetched.
Scientific American did coverage on the subject. Its come to light that the cell’s nucleus may have traces of memory embedded with them. This links to synapses, where long-term memories exist. Apparently, the body knows the exact number of synapses it should have. So if the body over creates any, these synapses will retract back into the cells, bringing snippets of memories with them.
There are several stories that investigate recipients that have taken on traits of their donors.
To me, all of these things sound a bit like plants and could be an easy transition when manipulating the cells correctly.
There is BeyondMeat to think about. This is a company that strives to feed the planet with a new solution, even if it’s a bit left wing. They want to replace animal protein with plant protein. If we can grow meat this way… maybe we can grow hearts this way too.
Does our future contain heart plants too?
Science is always changing, and I wondered how can we make it better to save more lives? Is it possible for us to grow hearts too? If we embed the heart with patient cell tissues, would it be better because the heart is grown specifically for the patient?
Innovation begins with the right mix of ideas, rumors, and imagination.