Heart Muscle Cells Made in the Lab Successfully Transplanted into Patient

Researchers made the cardiac muscle cells from induced pluripotent stem cells.
Donna Fuscaldo

A team of researchers at Osaka University in Japan successfully transplanted cardiac muscle cells created from iPS into a patient, who is now recovering in the general ward of the hospital. 

The team, led by Yoshiki Sawa, a professor in the university's cardiovascular surgery unit, created the cardiac muscle cells from iPS cells in a clinical trial to verify the safety and efficacy of this type of procedure. The researches want to transplant heart muscle cells into ten patients who have serious heart malfunctions because of ischemic cardiomyopathy over a three year period. 


Could this procedure replace heart transplants? 

Instead of replacing the heart of patients, the researchers developed degradable sheets of heart muscle cells that were placed on the damaged areas of the heart.

To grow the heart muscle cells in the lab, the researchers turned to induced pluripotent stem cells otherwise known as iPS.  Researchers are able to take those iPS cells and make them into any cell they want. In this case, it was heart muscle cells.  If the clinical trials prove successful it could remove someday the need for heart transplants. 

“I hope that (the transplant) will become a medical technology that will save as many people as possible, as I’ve seen many lives that I couldn’t save,” Sawa was quoted at a news conference reported the Japan Times

As for the patient, the team plans to monitor him during the next year to ascertain how the heart muscle cells perform.  According to the Japan Times, the researchers opted to conduct a clinical trial instead of a clinical study because they want approval from Japan's health ministry for clinical application as soon as possible. 

The report noted that during the trial the researchers will look at risks, probabilities of cancer and the efficacy of transplanting 100 million cells for each patient that could include tumor cells.  

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