Monday, April 02, 2007

Heart Valves and Blood Types From the Lab

A human heart valve has been successfully grown outside of a human host, says a leading heart surgeon. The valve was produced by a British research team using adult stem cells.

Sir Magdi Yacoub, professor of cardiac surgery at Imperial College London, has worked on the process for more than a decade and has finally produced tissue that works the same as natural human heart valve tissue. If the animal testing scheduled for next year works out, thousands of people who suffer and die from heart disease will have an entirely new avenue of treatment options derived from their own stem cell tissue.

The stem cells are harvested from the patients own bone marrow. It is then placed on a special scaffold where it can grow into any organ or tissue replacement needed. Since the tissue is an exact match to the patient, the possibility of rejection of that tissue is eliminated. To date, researchers and doctors have grown tendons, cartilages, and bladders. And now heart tissue. The replication of entire hearts is only a matter of a few short years.

The Guardian

Blood types A, B, and AB can now be converted to type O, the universal blood type, is the news from Denmark. Dr. Henrik Clausen, of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark has discovered enzymes that can remove a molecule from the surface of A,B, and AB blood types. The research has been going on for more than twenty years.

The various blood groupings, types, are based on a protein molecule called agglutinogen. The agglutinogen is found on the surface of red blood cells. Blood types A,B, or AB will coagulate when mixed causing the patient to die. Blood type O does not react to the other blood types and is used when type specific blood is unavailable. The research original process could remove the surface proteins, but the large quantity of enzyme to protein made the process unworkable for mass usage.

The discovery by Clausens team of two previously unknown enzymes is important because only small amounts of the enzymes are required to convert the type specific blood groups to the universal type O. This makes the production of the life saving fluid far more economical and efficient. It's also hoped the discovery will improve the blood supply while enhancing the safety of clinical transfusions.

Nature Biotechnology, online April 1st, 2007, via Reuters UK.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Mike's America said...

I guess I'll have to read the article. I would think they'd want to discover a way to treat O to be usable to the rarer blood types.

Indigo Red said...

It's cheaper and easier to maintain only one blood stock, and it eliminates the possibilty of blood matching mistakes which results in something like 60% of blood transfusion deaths.

dcat said...

Huh! They just did a liver transplant to a criminal in prison here in Washington State and we are paying for it!!!

Gosh now we can save criminal’s, lives in prison and pay for that too!!! UGH!

Indigo Red said...

Hey! Criminals are people, too. And a damned shame it is.

Mike's America said...

I was a certified EMT and worked in a hospital for years, but I've forgotten what I knew about blood types.

But can you give someone A or AB type O blood?