Of course, with the evolution of stem cell science, we’ve all just been waiting with bated breath to hear about using them for replacing pieces of the heart (well, I have anyway). And now, here’s the first piece of research that’s not just “dreaming big” but is actually approved by the FDA.
Scientists have found a way to strip a human heart valve (from a cadaver) of the cells and debris a heart normally contains. Then after cleaning and decontaminating it, what remains of the “heart valve” to be transplanted is a web of connective tissue that has a lower chance of triggering the body’s immune response/rejection mechanisms. Two big benefits of this approach: eliminates the need for lifelong blood-thinning medications, and the replacement has less chance of calcifying than a pig or cow heart valve. So far, they’ve done this for the heart’s pulmonary valve (check out the illustration).
This is a huge step forward in our ability to combat heart and other organ diseases. Congratulations to CryoLife Inc. on its CryoValve SynerGraft Pulmonary Valve and Valved-Conduit Allograft.