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15 Jan, 2008 05:49

Vet-grown rat heart could save millions of lives

An artificial organic human heart, grown in a laboratory, is a step closer after researchers at the University of Minnesota managed to grow a rat's heart and get it beating. Scientists say their long-term objective is to grow a human heart or its closest

Scientists used a heart matrix created from newborn rat’s heart and injected muscle and endothelial cells to form a new heart. Then it was stimulated electrically.

“We've got a scaffold, nature knows how to create a scaffold better than you and I. We took nature's tools, gave them the cells, and began to build an organ,” said Doctor Doris Taylor, head of the research team.

The same technology could be used to produce other organs as well, Taylor added.

The research was conducted as an attempt to find new treatments for heart diseases.

Medicine experts say lab-grown organs that suit the patient’s immune system could be a good alternative to donor organ transplants and artificial replacement organs.