Scientists try to grow heart 'parts' from stem cells

Researchers in Hong Kong and the United States are trying to use stem cells to grow heart "parts", such as heart muscles and pacemakers, with the goal of using them in humans within five years.

Scientists have already succeeded in growing basic heart muscle from stem cells. But now the team, led by the university of Hong Kong, hopes to "process" it to replace parts damaged by heart attacks.

In addition to experts from the university of Hong Kong, the team includes researchers from the harvard stem cell institute, the national institutes of health, and the mount sinai school of medicine in the United States.

"When a person has a heart attack, you have a short period of time where you can use a tissue graft to repair the heart," said Ronald lee, director of the stem cell and regenerative medicine research center at the university of Hong Kong. “ In that way, the patient won't end up with heart failure.”

The team will use human embryonic stem cells to make such heart muscles and pacemakers and plan to transplant them into the bodies of pigs.

If it can be successful, the team will begin clinical trials in humans in about five years, transplanting heart muscle from patients' own stem cells.
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