Biology TED Books

A ghost heart?

Posted by: Michelle Quint

Here’s a treat for Valentine’s Day (in addition to this playlist of TED Talks about love): Below, take a close-up look at a decellularized “ghost heart.” This heart can serve as a scaffold upon which to grow a working heart from human stem cells. Researchers at the Texas Heart Institute created it by stripping all the living cells from a pig heart with a soap solution, which bursts the cells and leaves only the protein structure behind. These scientists have successfully implanted tissue-engineered hearts into rats and pigs so far. They hope ultimately to create personalized human hearts and help relieve the shortage of donor organs. 

Behold, the "ghost heart." Image: Courtesy of RMR Labs, Texas Heart Institute

Behold, the “ghost heart.” Image: Courtesy of RMR Labs, Texas Heart Institute

Read much more in the new TED Book Super Cells: Building With Biology, by Nina Tandon and Mitchell Joachim. It’s available for the Kindle, Nook, and through the iBookstore. Or download the TED Books app to get access to this title — and the entire TED Books archive — for the duration of your subscription. 

Comments (12)

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  • commented on Apr 4 2014

    solution of this problem, but this only counters hyperacute rejection. A third option is to combine xenotransplantation with tissue engineering. In this process a pig organs is decellurized so that only the structure of that organ is left. Subsequently tissue from a patient are placed on this structure, and with as final result an organ which will not rejected by the recipient’s body.
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  • commented on Feb 15 2014

    Reblogged this on Art By Javon.

  • commented on Feb 14 2014

    Reblogged this on Cátia Quirino.

  • commented on Feb 14 2014

    Reblogged this on Getting to the M.D. and commented:
    On this Valentine’s Day, while much of the world is busy with overpriced flower bouquets from Walmart, half-eaten boxes of heart-shaped chocolate, and social media updates of lovey-dovey togetherness, I can think of something much more interesting: DECELLULARIZED PIG HEARTS. I spotted this gem on the TED Blog and it was so awesome I had to share it. It’s an incredible idea, and has the potential to save so many people with sick hearts. Also, here’s another article from Biomedical Materials about ghost organs: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-605X/8/1/014106

    Read up, my friends!

  • commented on Feb 14 2014

    Reblogged this on Republic of Lagrangia and commented:
    Yesterday we discussed the idea of 3D-printed organs. Though that technology is developing fast, it’s still far from any practical applications. Another solution for the shortage of organs, would be xenotransplantation. However that approach has it’s own differences, namely the risk of (hyperacute) rejection. Genetically engineered pigs have been studied as a solution of this problem, but this only counters hyperacute rejection. A third option is to combine xenotransplantation with tissue engineering. In this process a pig organs is decellurized so that only the structure of that organ is left. Subsequently tissue from a patient are placed on this structure, and with as final result an organ which will not rejected by the recipient’s body.