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Lab-grown human heart implants: fiction or reality?

Tissue-engineered human organs will soon become a multi billion-dollar medical market in the treatment of chronic heart disease (CHD), if researchers can meet strict regulatory approval, according to new analysis1 from research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The analysis finds that the market for laboratory-made body parts could benefit millions worldwide as they do not present a risk of host rejection. However, this technology is still in the early stages of development and is a long way from receiving CE or USA Food and Drug Administration approval, and being released onto the global market, they add.

The analysis cites the research of Dr Doris Taylor (Texas Heart Institute, St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Texas, USA) into developing a lab-grown rat heart in 2010, by implanting human stem cells into a rat heart scaffold which served as a blueprint for the stem cells to follow.

It also highlights the work of Dr Francisco Fernandez-Aviles and his team in Madrid, who have already grown early-stage valves and patches that could be used to repair tissue damaged by heart attack, and hope to produce a working heart in the next five to six years. A bioreactor will provide oxygen and nutrients to the growing organ and remove waste products, and blood will be pumped through the organ to mimic circulation in the human heart. Electrical connections in the heart will also be modeled, with a pacemaker generating electrical activity.

Dr Doris Taylor (Courtesy of Texas Heart Institute)


1. Madhavan P. Implanting a lab-grown human heart in the future: fiction or reality? GlobalData 2013. Available from

Published on: April 26, 2013

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