I mean, seriously. This sort of thing is what medical research is all about.
In April we wrote about research led by Yacoub, who’s been called the world’s leading heart surgeon. His team had managed in the laboratory to grow tissue that functions in the same way as human heart valves, using stem cells drawn from the patient’s own bone marrow.
As reported in the London Daily Mail, Yacoub’s team harvested the stem cells and used a chemical cocktail to coax them into becoming heart cells. Placed on a “scaffold” made of biodegradable plastic, they grew and fused together to form discs of heart valve tissue just an inch wide. As the valves developed, the scaffold decayed, leaving behind solid tissue.
Yacoub, a professor of cardiac surgery at Imperial College London, noted: “Although there has been huge progress in developing mechanical replacements, they still work mechanically and not physiologically they cannot match the elegant sophisticated functions of living tissues.”
Unlike rigid artificial valves that just open and shut, these valves are living tissue that responds to events and changes shape as required. The heart can pump freely and unobstructed by a foreign object. There’s no need to replace valves as children grow older indeed, no need to replace them ever.
C’mon guys! More of this please.