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It is not every day you get to build a heart
2014-09-17

According to the World Health Organisation, heart disease is the leading cause of death world wide. Heart transplantations substantially outperform any other available treatment and extend life by an average of 15 years, but the shortage of donor organs and organ rejection still remain a challenge.

Getting closer to the day where it will be possible to produce human organs by using human cells, researchers at the University of the Free State (UFS) announced that they have successfully decellularized a primate heart.

Decellularization is the process of taking an organ and stripping its cells, leaving behind a framework of binding tissue. The organ can then be repopulated (recellularized) with the patient's own cells - a process considered to move heart research closer to the day when a patient can become his own donor.

This process was discovered in 2008 by American cardiologist, Dr Doris Taylor of the University of Minnesota, who decellularized and recellularized a beating rat heart in a laboratory.

World wide researchers already used the process of decellularization on rat and pig hearts, but the research team of the UFS is the first to use this on a primate heart.

Complete media release.

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