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Adult Stem Cells May Hold Key to Ethical Heart Transplants

ORLANDO, Florida, January 14, 2008 ( - Scientists have created a beating heart using laboratory techniques that involve adult stem cells and that could revolutionize organ donation.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota reported their findings at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. The highly experimental procedure involved removing all the cells from a rat's dead heart, and using its protein blueprint as a guide for live adult stem cells seeded on the old heart.

"We took nature's building blocks to build a new organ," said Harald Ott, who worked on the project. "When we saw the first contractions we were speechless."

The ethical questions concerning heart donation could be completely sidestepped by such a process. Furthermore a new heart, grown in this way, would not be rejected by the patient's immune system, which is a common problem with organ transplants.

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