Rewriting Life

Making Bioartificial Hearts

An ingenious method for making new organs could one day revolutionize medical transplants.

Apr 22, 2008
Doris Taylor (right) and her colleague Stefan Kren are creating live bioartificial hearts.

Rewriting Life

Making Bioartificial Hearts

An ingenious method for making new organs could one day revolutionize medical transplants.

Apr 22, 2008
A pig’s heart in formaldehyde has been stripped of its cells using a strong chemical detergent. The extra­cellular matrix left behind will be seeded with cells to produce a new heart.
A rat heart in a bioreactor has been chemically stripped of cells and then repopulated with neonatal cardiac myocytes. Suspended in the bioreactor, the new heart receives nutrients; mechanical and electrical cues train it to beat on its own.
A close-up of the rat heart in the bioreactor shows that it is attached to two catheters responsible for the inflow and outflow of a nutrient solution. The heart is also hooked to two electrodes that train it to contract and expand.