BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature: Specials: Anaheim 99  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Anaheim 99 Monday, 25 January, 1999, 14:00 GMT
Heart in a box
Andrew Luck-Baker
From the BBC's Andrew Luck-Baker in Anaheim

AAAS Expo
A Canadian scientist has outlined his plans to create complete human hearts for transplant operations.

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science expo in Anaheim, USA, Professor Michael Sefton said he is working on the template idea used by others working in the field of tissue engineering.

Professor Sefton, from the University of Toronto, hopes that within ten years, it will be possible to take samples of heart muscle cells grown in lab culture and persuade them to grow around a heart-shaped biodegradable scaffold.

Once the organ has grown, this scaffold is harmlessly absorbed by the enveloping cells, leaving a full-sized heart complete with its four chambers.

Global demand

All over the world, there is a shortage of donor hearts for transplant operations. At the moment, an estimated 150,000 people with diseased hearts are waiting for replacements. As the global population ages, the demand will increase each year.

It is to satisfy this need that the recently launched international project was devised. The Living Implants From Engineering (LIFE) initiative, as it is called, is certainly an ambitious project and follows on from the techniques developed to build replacement ears and bone.

The ultimate plan envisaged is a production line of laboratory grown organs, which are packaged up and kept with separately prepared heart valves. Hospitals would then have a supply of organs, ready for surgeons to transplant into patients on demand.

The scientific and technological challenges are considerable, but very recent advances in growing and manipulating cells outside the body suggest the heart in a box project may be more than just a dream.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Anaheim 99 stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Anaheim 99 stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes