Carbon nanotubes make it possible to grow human hearts

By Graham Templeton on February 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm

One of the most fundamental problems with growing organs in a petri dish (metaphorically speaking) is that organs don’t grow in petri dishes. That is to say, the naturally grown organs we’d like to replace were themselves grown in and amongst organs, which were themselves grown in and amongst others.

This nature-nurture dichotomy highlights how much our genes rely on environmental constants for their mechanisms of action; all the fancy collagens in the world can’t anchor a cell to a basement membrane that isn’t there. Time and again we’ve seen admirable work in cell biology undone by the simple fact that these meticulously engineered cells are without the proper world in which to grow, and some organs have posed more problems than others. A bladder is a relatively simple thing, just a balloon with a couple of special openings. A heart, on the other hand, needs significantly more nurturing to grow up big and strong, precise enough to replace the body-grown version from which it was cloned. This week, the American Chemical Society’s journal Nano printed an article detailing the use of carbon nanotubes in a growth scaffold for rat heart cells. The result? The closest we’ve come to creating a beating heart on demand.

Read more: Carbon nanotubes make it possible to grow human hearts | ExtremeTech.

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