Heart Tissue and Blood Vessels
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world, so the race to find ways to rebuild a damaged heart is intense. Stem cells may provide a way to fix this vital organ, and though these methods aren't available yet, we'd like to provide a sneak peek at some of the coolest research being conducted.
Tubular scaffolding, which scientists can build in the lab, is at the core of attempts to rebuild a heart. Ideally, this scaffolding would be implanted into the human heart and serve as the model for new cell growth. Stem cells, when placed on the scaffold, could yield new blood vessels, which would reduce the need for harvesting new vessels from the patient. The scaffold could also help new heart tissue to grow, which could be key to repairing damage after a heart attack. In one study, researchers used the scaffolding to grow new heart muscle cells, which were successfully implanted into rats.