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This animal study may pave the way for wonderful medical treatments. From the story:

Scientists have created a beating heart in the laboratory in a breakthrough that could allow doctors one day to make a range of organs for transplant almost from scratch.

The procedure involved stripping all the existing cells from a dead heart so that only the protein “skeleton” that created its shape was left. Then the skeleton was seeded with live “progenitor” cells, which multiplied and grew back over it, eventually linking together into a new organ. Such cells are involved in the formative stages of specialised types of tissue such as those found in the heart.

The research, by scientists at the University of Minnesota, has so far been done only with rats and pigs and is highly experimental. It is unlikely to be applied to humans for years. However, Professor Doris Taylor, director of the university’s centre for cardiovascular repair, believes it could be a significant step towards creating custom-built hearts, blood vessels and other organs for people with serious illness.

The big advantage of such an approach is that organs so built would use stem cells taken from the patient so the body’’s immune system would not reject them.
Yes, well some of us have been saying that adult stem cell research offered that particular benefit for years, but “the scientists” insisted we had to do cloning to deal with immune rejection. But now, that never very strong argument wears ever more thin as well, what with the IPSC breakthrough that also would solve the rejection issue, assuming that technology works out and scientists are ever able to overcome the difficult tumor issue that prevents pluripotent stem cells from being used in human patients.

At this point in posts about stories such as this, I usually make a crack about how embryonic stem cells don’t offer the only hope after all. But that is so abundantly clear by now, it basically goes without saying.

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