According to the Texas Heart Institute, "More than 3,000 patients are on the national patient waiting list for a heart transplant, but only about 2,000 donor hearts become available for transplantation in a year."
Harald Ott is a surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. Best known for his work in whole organ regeneration, Dr. Ott and his team of researchers at his world-renowned Ott Lab have successfully grown fully functioning heart tissue.
In a press release,Jacques Guyette, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospitalresearcherand lead author of Ott's studysaid,"Generating functional cardiac tissue involves meeting several challenges.These include providing a structural scaffold that is able to support cardiac function, a supply of specialised cardiac cells, and a supportive environment in which cells can repopulate the scaffold to form mature tissue capable of handling complex cardiac functions."
What's next for the project? Guyette says, "Regenerating a whole heart is most certainly a long-term goal that is several years away, so we are currently working on engineering a functional myocardial patch that could replace cardiac tissue damaged due a heart attack or heart failure."
It looks like viable treatment options for patients in need of heart transplants may be in our near future.