Scientists grow full sized, beating human hearts from stem cells

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It’s the closest we’ve come to growing transplantable hearts in the lab

Of the 4,000 Americans waiting for heart transplants, only 2,500 will receive new hearts in the next year. Even for those lucky enough to get a transplant, the biggest risk is the their bodies will reject the new heart and launch a massive immune reaction against the foreign cells. To combat the problems of organ shortage and decrease the chance that a patient’s body will reject it, researchers have been working to create synthetic organs from patients’ own cells. Now a team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has gotten one step closer, using adult skin cells to regenerate functional human heart tissue, according to a study published recently in the journal Circulation Research.

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Making on-demand organ transplants possible with cryopreservation

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According to a recent report in Nature Biotechnology, about 70 percent of eligible donated hearts never get utilized and up to 20 percent of donated kidneys are discarded in the United States today. And worldwide only 10 percent of the organ need is being met, according to the World Health Organization who calls the shortage “among the greatest crises facing bio-medicine today.”

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