Category Archives: Transplants

BVMC Video (Architectural Rendering)

For a detail description of this project with budgetary information, please go to the main Hospital Project page.  

This is a rendering of what we envision for the new Bella Vista Medical Center (BVMC) in Vidin, Bulgaria, EU. The hospital depicted in this video was designed by Pace Architectural firm and is currently being build in Kuwait. We have been in communication with Pace for the purposes of using this hospital as the basis and foundation for the design and construction of BVMC.

This video was created by Bexel Consulting and embeded merely as a depiction of our vision for the future.

If you would like to make a Donation to this project, please contact us (information listed below) or visit our donation page for this project (Click to Donate).  Additionally, if you have any questions of comments, or would like further information, please visit our contact page or call or email us at:

Outreach@BellaVista.ngo
US:  +1 310 526-3299
BG: +359 8899 23552

It’s the closest we've come to growing transplantable hearts in the lab

Scientists Grow Full-Sized, Beating Human Hearts From Stem Cells

REGENERATED HEART Heart tissue, seeded with induced cardiac cells, matures in a bioreactor that the researchers created credit: Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Lab, Center for Regenerative Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital via Eurekalert

Of the 4,000 Americans waiting for heart transplants, only 2,500 will receive new hearts in the next year. Even for those lucky enough to get a transplant, the biggest risk is the their bodies will reject the new heart and launch a massive immune reaction against the foreign cells. To combat the problems of organ shortage and decrease the chance that a patient’s body will reject it, researchers have been working to create synthetic organs from patients’ own cells. Now a team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has gotten one step closer, using adult skin cells to regenerate functional human heart tissue, according to a study published recently in the journal Circulation Research.

Ideally, scientists would be able to grow working hearts from patients’ own tissues, but they’re not quite there yet. That’s because organs have a particular architecture. It's easier to grow them in the lab if they have a scaffolding on which the cells can build, like building a house with the frame already constructed.

In their previous work, the scientists created a technique in which they use a detergent solution to strip a donor organ of cells that might set off an immune response in the recipient. They did that in mouse hearts, but for this study, the researchers used it on human hearts. They stripped away many of the cells on 73 donor hearts that were deemed unfit for transplantation. Then the researchers took adult skin cells and used a new technique with messenger RNA to turn them into pluripotent stem cells, the cells that can become specialized to any type of cell in the human body, and then induced them to become two different types of cardiac cells.

After making sure the remaining matrix would provide a strong foundation for new cells, the researchers put the induced cells into them. For two weeks they infused the hearts with a nutrient solution and allowed them to grow under similar forces to those a heart would be subject to inside the human body. After those two weeks, the hearts contained well-structured tissue that looked similar to immature hearts; when the researchers gave the hearts a shock of electricity, they started beating.

While this isn’t the first time heart tissue has been grown in the lab, it’s the closest researchers have come to their end goal: Growing an entire working human heart. But the researchers admit that they’re not quite ready to do that. They are next planning to improve their yield of pluripotent stem cells (a whole heart would take tens of billions, one researcher said in a press release), find a way to help the cells mature more quickly, and perfecting the body-like conditions in which the heart develops. In the end, the researchers hope that they can create individualized hearts for their patients so that transplant rejection will no longer be a likely side effect.

They say only time heals a broken heart, but Duke University researchers think they can do better. Using embryonic stem cells from mice and their own novel molding technique, a team of researchers at Duke has developed a three-dimensional heart cell "patch" that

Patch Uses Stem Cells To Plug Holes in The Heart

THE HEART PATCH
Using a novel molding technique, Duke University researchers have developed a three-dimensional heart patch that grows heart tissue from stem cells to seal up holes or weak spots in cardiac tissue. Immunofluorescence shows the cardiomyocytes in green, the fibroblasts around them in red.
Brian Liau, Duke University

conducts electrical impulses and contracts, two all important characteristics of heart tissue.

Cardiomyocytes, the heart muscle cells that keep the blood pumping, are difficult to grow effectively because left to their own devices, they will simply develop into a disorganized clump of cells. To get around this, the team coaxed embryonic stem cells to develop into cardiomyocytes by placing them in an environment much like the one in which they develop naturally. By encapsulating the cells in a gel made of fibrin, a blood-clotting protein, the researchers provided the mechanical support for the cells to form an organized, three-dimensional structure.

But the key ingredient for the researchers were helper cells called cardiac fibroblasts. These cells make up as much as 60 percent of the cells present in the heart, and when introduced to the mold they caused the cardiomyocytes to pull together as if they were growing in a developing human heart. The alignment of the cells in the correct direction allows them to contract and carry electrical signals as though they are native tissue, allowing them to function fairly seamlessly alongside existing heart tissue.

After being cast in the fibrin mold, the patches can be placed on the heart where the tissue is thin or compromised and injected with cells that would then generate new heart tissue. But obstacles remain; aside from the many regulatory hurdles a procedure like the heart patch must leap, engineering a blood vessel supply to sustain the patch also presents substantial challenges. The use of embryonic stem cells also invites controversy, so the Duke team also plans to test their patch using non-embryonic stem cells.

Ethical and regulatory issues aside, the proof of concept is an important breakthrough for cardiac researchers who have a limited arsenal with which to battle heart disease, the leading cause of death in many developed countries. An effective non-embyronic stem cell heart patch would not only circumvent the problem of immune system reactions, but sidestep sensitive ethical land mines, clearing the way to put broken hearts on the mend.