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Researchers Create Beating Heart In Lab

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the keeps-on-ticking dept.

Biotech 258

Sunday Scientist writes "Minnesota researchers have created a beating heart in the laboratory. In a process called whole organ decellularization, they grew functioning heart tissue by using dead rat and pig hearts as a sort of flesh matrix, and reseeding them with a mixture of live cells. The goal is to grow replacement parts, using their own stem cells, for people born with defective tickers or experiencing heart failure."

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258 comments

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028590)

good news for CmdrTaco so eat away, fatty

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028774)

lol fat niggers

CMDRTACO IS A NIGGERFACED FATTY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028900)

mod me down if you WHOLEHEARTEDLY and UNABASHEDLY agree!

FP stands for FUDGEPACK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029316)

CmdrTaco is a negro fudgepacker. Wait, that ain't right. HE LIKES TO TAKE IT! FROM LITTLE BOYS!

  B-B-Bad to the B-B-Bone!

Wizard of Oz (5, Funny)

hack slash (1064002) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028596)

Tin Man will be so pleased.

The Wiz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028800)

Nigger Tin Man will also be pleased.

Re:Wizard of Oz (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029102)

Oz never gave nothing to the Tin Man.......

Ok that was heartless.

Re:Wizard of Oz (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029574)

Actually...he never gave ANYTHING to the TinMan, and THAT is what's heartless. Had he actually NOT given him NOTHING then I'd consider that charity!

Unthinkable just 25 years ago (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028606)

With the advances in biotechnology, it's amusing to think that Larry Niven in his Gil "The Arm" Hamilton stories (collected in Flatlander [amazon.com] ) foresaw a future where you'd get the death penalty for just about anything just so that the state could rip out your organs for donation into someone needing it. In Niven's future history, the use of organ transplants ends only hundreds of years in the future when alloplasty ("gadgets instead of organs") is developed. Now, in just 2007, we're getting close to synthesizing real organs instead of transplanting or making little machines.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028862)

Just because Larry Niven didn't conceive of it happening for one of his science fiction worlds doesn't mean it was "unthinkable". It wasn't even "unthinkable" there, it was just at a different spot in the timeline. It's hardly something new (or noteworthy) for an SF writer to make poor or inconsistent predictions about future technologies, and I don't see why you'd derive much amusement by looking back on it (especially considering that the SF-style applications of this technology are as much vaporware as claims about AI made 20 years ago - the foundation isn't the house).

Re:Unthinkable just 25 years ago (5, Insightful)

cnettel (836611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028920)

Or, maybe, like in many kinds of SF, the specifics of technology available is just as well chosen to make the story interesting, even in hard SF. It's supposed to tickle your imagination, not as a technology roadmap. Hence, to paint the picture of a society where this becomes common practice over the course of generations, of course you need to stipulate that the problem is hard, just like some people chose to assume that somewhat-strong AI or FTL drive is far more feasible than it was maybe reasonable to assume.

Re:Unthinkable just 25 years ago (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029188)

In this case, I figure that the creator was going for serious SciFi, not just a mcguffin to make the story interesting. You just have to remember that even the most expert SciFi writer isn't going to be 100% of on the science of his day - much less how it'll play out in the future.

Wikipedia placed the publish date of "The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton" in 1976, The first successful kidney transplant was in 1954(for identical twins, so no rejection)and the first human heart & liver transplants were in 1967.

So, at the time the story was written - humanity seemed to be on a steady march towards being able to transplant more and more organs. Cloning hadn't made the news yet. Stem cells were hardly known to the public.

So I could see an author, in 1976, positing that eventually our desire for replacement organs might warp society a bit. The usage of convicts sentenced to death for this would be the mcguffin, as would the expansion of death penalty cases.

Meanwhile, 30 years later we're getting close to being able to clone (just)organs, we've discovered making computers fast and small is easier than large and smart, we have NOT conquered the human mind, space, or the sea like the writers of the '50s thought.

At least we aren't quite as screwed up as the author of 'soylent green' would have you believe.

Re:Unthinkable just 25 years ago (2, Insightful)

cnettel (836611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029440)

I really don't see the conflict between serious science fiction and some degree of artistic license. The point is that the scenario should seem conceivable, "this is one possible future development". It doesn't have to be the one that the author her/himself deems the very most likely. After all, if every story written was part of the author's personal ML estimate optimum of the future at the point of writing, one would either run into a complete inability to write any coherent works (the prediction would continuously change), or lock it at one point in time and then go on writing about the same stuff.

To say that Niven predicted that synthetical organs wouldn't be possible for hundreds of years is like saying that Clarke predicted that a 1:4:9 monolith should have been found on the moon about ten years ago, and that the creats of that monolith should have seeded human intelligence. Despite those aspects, both authors try to give a somewhat "realistic" view of a possible future, but that doesn't change the fact that some aspects are chosen more for the benefit of the story or to explore an interesting issue, rather than for the purpose of prediction.

Re:Unthinkable just 25 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029022)

Ha, to the creators of that incredibly crap film "The Island" it was unthinkable only a few years ago.

(As a biochemist, it annoyed me no end. Not only did it ignore likely advances, it ignored or contravened current science and known medicine of the time. The writers should have been shot, and some proper science fiction authors hired).

I always think of "The Island" as a good film (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029168)

By Michael Bay's standards, "The Island" is hard sci-fi... and a quality movie!

Niven counter-example (spoilers) (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029170)

In A Gift from Earth, a colony world uses organ harvesting to punish criminals and dissidents, and rewards loyalty to the regime with spare parts.

In the course of the novel, a slower-than-light starship arrives with a how-to guide for a brand-new technology: Custom-grown organs. The protagonist sees grown-from-seed organs developing in a tank, and assumes that they are from children! Actually, they spell the end of the local tyranny.

That was in 1968, just a year or two after the first "Gil the Arm" story.

Re:Unthinkable just 25 years ago (4, Insightful)

ppanon (16583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029472)

Well, Niven's government ordered organ collection stories may not have been too far off either if Falun Dafa practitioners are to be believed [www.cbc.ca]. There's been ongoing rumours of organlegging in Asia for a while, and even the UK is being more aggressive about organ collection [bbc.co.uk].

The advantage of using your own stem cells instead of parts of some poor sap cut up for his crimes or beliefs, is that the former should be less subject to rejection. Assuming they ever get this approach viable for use in humans. I'm hoping so because, as the population becomes an increasingly aged one in Western countries, the pressure on organ banks is going to increase. And as the population becomes increasingly obese, the supply of healthy candidates for organ donations is only going to decrease.

Oh well, it could be worse. Transplants could have been available back when people thought debtor's prison was a good idea.

Re:Unthinkable just 25 years ago (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029788)

I don't know if it'd be correct to describe the gift from Earth as "gadgets"; they were grown organs, not requiring a host body.

As for Niven's earlier future, you might want to take a closer look at what goes on elsewhere in the world.

Interesting engineering opportunities (5, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028624)

This presents a long-term opportunity for the next phase in body modification. Who says that a "replacement" organ must be identical to the original equipment? Perhaps athletes will opt for an enlarged six-chambered heart or an abdominal booster-heart to improve endurance.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028676)

I doubt it. It would be almost impossible to hide a 6 chambered artificial heart from the IOC doping testers. You'd be much better off just sticking to old fashioned performance enhancing drugs. Someone will probably be dumb enough to try it though.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028738)

You shouldn't have to hide it. Each sport should have an entirely-separate class for modders and dopers.

This is how we're going to evolve, from here on out. Natural selection doesn't work in a welfare state.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028808)

Nearly every sport has a doping and non-doping league already. The problem is, people will only pay to see the non-doping leagues at the moment. Which means all the money is in the non-doping league. Which means all the dopers try to cheat and compete in the non-doping league. This problem seems unlikely to ever go away.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (4, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028972)

Nearly every sport has a doping and non-doping league already. The problem is, people will only pay to see the non-doping leagues at the moment. Which means all the money is in the non-doping league. Which means all the dopers try to cheat and compete in the non-doping league. This problem seems unlikely to ever go away.
It seemed to me it was the other way around. But then I don't really follow the sports.

Are you sure about that? (2, Insightful)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029080)

"Nearly every sport has a doping and non-doping league already."

There are doping leagues for baseball, basketball, and football? I've never heard of that. Are you talking about a European thing?

"The problem is, people will only pay to see the non-doping leagues at the moment."

In the one sport I know of that does have doping and non-doping, bodybuilding, the doping league is where the money is overwhelmingly made. Maybe this is just a US thing, don't know.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (4, Interesting)

bwalling (195998) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029078)

This is how we're going to evolve, from here on out.
I seriously hope that I die before that comes to pass. Given the greed in this world, modding humans will only lead to a greater disparity between "have" and "have not." I'd like to hope for better, but it seems like that would just be foolish.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029158)

Given the greed in this world, modding humans will only lead to a greater disparity between "have" and "have not." I'd like to hope for better, but it seems like that would just be foolish.

Well, as things stand, there has never been a greater disparity between haves and have-nots... and gee, the have-nots have never had it so well. In America, our 21st-century trailer trash lives better than 19th-century royalty.

You can make fun of trickle-down economic theory all you want, but like the XKCD cartoon about the microwave-anisotropy measurements that proved the Big Bang, "It works, bitches."

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (2, Funny)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029560)

Honestly, it doesn't bother me if this leads to greater disparity. The fact is that it will benefit me, and that is all that ultimately matters. I'm going to have the skills, the money, and the knowledge to take advantage of this new technology and use it to increase my competitive edge, and although this may sound harsh I really don't give a damn if its unfair to everyone else. Fairness is nothing but a myth; life has never been fair and it is neither possible nor desirable to attempt to create it. Through my work and my hard effort I make myself better...that's really all I'd be doing.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029336)

I dunno - you're thinking about haves and have-nots in terms of cash. But I'm thinking in terms of genetics. Why should some girls be "prettier" than others, and some guys able to run faster, think smarter, play piano better, or be born without what we'd consider "mental defects"? This way in theory anybody could participate in the Tour de France, or marry an old rich guy.

In any case, I think its inevitable - so there is not much point in arguing about it. Everybody uses their strengths to make up for their weaknesses. The fact that humans are much better in brains than just about anything else just means that the brains will figure out a way to make up for the rest.

What's the difference between having a few extra heart chambers vs wearing eyeglasses or a hearing aid?

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029688)

Western medicine has always been about making sick people kinda better again.. once the person gets to that point, we tend to leave them to their own devices, until they're sick again.

Growing and harvesting organs is fine in scifi.. but in real life it seems to make people squeamish. Just like the concepts of open heart surgery and organ transplants used to make people squeamish.. also notably like the concept of x-rays, CT scans and cancer treatments don't make them quite so squeamish.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028724)

Considering the fact that the new fetal heart was only pumping at 1/4th the normal heart's capacity suggests you might already need a bigger heart. Although, if they were able to grow a heart that functioned exactly how an original would, what animal can you think of has those kinds of modifications? From the article, you can read that they simply created a new heart using the lattice structure of the original heart.

Install several in parallel (5, Funny)

MonkeyBoyo (630427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028784)

If you can grow replacement hears, then you can grow more than one.

Think of the gains of installing 2 in parallel, or even 4.

Though it would probably be nice to get their beating synchronized.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028794)

Even non-athletes could benefit from various forms of heart enhancement and engineering; of course, this discovery is currently very rudimentary compared to the longer term potential, but the door would be opened to engineering custom-tailored enhancement hearts for no other reason than to enhance performance, longevity, efficiency, or whatever else a person desires. There's going to be a lot of money in supplying them, too; the transplant backlog market will shrink pretty quickly once these start entering mass production, so anyone manufacturing these hearts would have to start expanding their offerings to reach out to discretionary rather than medically necessary markets. Organ replacement and organ enhancement would be just another expansion of the discretionary medical market; of course, they would also offer some pretty significant benefits above and beyond the ability to replace aging organs with better ones. I'm looking forward to it myself.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (2, Insightful)

sltd (1182933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029008)

The problem is you would have to make it from existing stem cells. You would probably get them from the person, or wherever. If I understand it correctly, you would be limited to normal human physiology, for compatibility reasons. There's the form factor, yes, but also getting everything connected, and you'd have to actually grow a six-chambered heart. At this stage, they're just barely getting a beating heart, so creative engineering like you're suggesting is, at best, quite a way away.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029120)

What I've often wondered is why our artificial hearts have a heartbeat. I mean, if it only has to move blood, why don't we use something akin to a centrifugal pump that would move blood in a constant stream instead of thump-thump-----thump-thump-----thump-thump? It seems there are more moving parts in an artificial heart than would be necessary.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029294)

"What I've often wondered is why our artificial hearts have a heartbeat. I mean, if it only has to move blood, why don't we use something akin to a centrifugal pump that would move blood in a constant stream..."

That's more than likely to result in your body's finely tuned system malfunctioning. Just imagine taking a "normal" engine out of a car and replacing it with Mazda's Wanker engine - I'm sure you'll end up with with a huge mess, leaking fluids all over the place. Not to mention a broken crank shaft.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

G-funk (22712) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029766)

Don't know much about cars, huh? People do that all the time. A mate of mine's got an old Gemmie with no engine awaiting a silly little 12A instead of a real motor.

Re:Interesting engineering opportunities (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029320)

I think there's one that uses the constant stream thing... (read about it on slashdot a few years ago?). I think the downside is that it causes arteries to accumulate stuff (ie: the beats tend to move things that would otherwise settle on the walls).

0ppr07un1ty 0f a l1fetime (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029736)

are you finding that you are needing something biggger to please your female partner? Act nows to re-engineer your manhood! In two weeks you too can be experiencing a new life whit our home growing kit. Act now and post attachment enl;argement pillls will be thwon in for free!

Tag this nineinchnails (0, Offtopic)

Nocterro (648910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028678)

Anyone else instantly reminded of the clip for "Closer", by Nine Inch Nails?

Tag this eddiemurphy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029144)

Anyone else instantly reminded of the clip for "Closer", by Nine Inch Nails?

Actually, I was reminded of this Eddie Murphy classic:

Well, step aside my friend
I've been doing it for years
I say, sit on down, open your eyes
And open up your ears

Say
Put a tree in your butt
Put a bumblebee in your butt
Put a clock in your butt
Put a big rock in your butt
Put some fleas in your butt
Start to sneeze in your butt
Put a tin can in your butt
Put a little tiny man in your butt
Put a light in your butt
Make it bright in your butt
Put a TV in your butt
Put me in your butt
Everybody say

[CHORUS]

I, hey, that's, man, I ain't putting no trees in nobody's butt,
no bees in nobody's butt, putting nothing--
You must be out your mind, man,
y'all get paid for doing this?
Cause y'all gotta get some kind of money
Cause this don't sound like the kind of--
I'd rather golf, to be perfectly honest,
than put somethin in somebody's butt
to be truthful

Well step aside my friend and let me
show you how you do it
When big bad E just rock rock to it

Put a metal case in your butt
Put her face in your butt
Put a frown in your butt
Put a clown in your butt
Sit on down in your butt
Put a boat in your butt
Put a moat in your butt
Put a mink coat in your butt
Put everything in your butt
Just start to sing about your butt
Feels real good

Long road ahead (1)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028682)

While on the surface this is very exciting and welcome news, understand that this: development still has a very long way to go before it will be truly useful. It will be a very long time until an engineered heart will be placed in a human chest saving someone's life. It may or may not happen in our lifetime (or ever for that matter).

Damn straight! (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029186)

Don't go abusing your body assuming you'll be able to get a new heart any time soon.

Of course, as late as the mid 1950s reputable engineers scoffed at the ideas of flights to the moon. This could come together faster than you can imagine.

Re:Damn straight! (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029292)

Don't go abusing your body assuming you'll be able to get a new heart any time soon.
Of course, as late as the mid 1950s reputable engineers scoffed at the ideas of flights to the moon. This could come together faster than you can imagine.
It could but I still don't see why exactly I would want to take that chance. I mean it might not be ready in time for me which would result in death. If it is ready in time, then you are still looking at heart transplant surgery which sounds umm, painful and expensive amoung other things. I will stick with the parent posters ounce of prevention mentality, thank you very much.

Re:Long road ahead (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029260)

development still has a very long way to go before it will be truly useful.

You might be surprised. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens in my lifetime.

They noted that the hearts were beating within 8 days - while I presume it might take longer for effective beating, I could see specially prepared pig hearts be decelled and then reseeded with stem cells from the human patient. A month later, they transplant, with no lingering need for immune suppression drugs.

While fusion is still two decades away, at least to me this seems to be at the '10 year' point. They merely have to ensure effective pumping of blood and get the process to work with human cells.

While they're doing this, perform test transplants with pigs where you create a replacement heart for a pig, then transplant the duplicate into the pig and see how it works.

After that, it's time to find a potential human recipient.

choices, choices... (4, Funny)

smokejive (1136035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028710)

Now the big question is, do I go for the replacement legs that give me more speed and let me jump higher, or do I become more stealthy. Choices, choices...

Re:choices, choices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029240)

Think about the possibilities!!! All "3n14rg3 ur p3n1z" spam-mails will lose their purpose... Just get some dead donkey and elephant tissue to grow on the proper place, and... Voilá!

Be still my beating heart! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028772)

I know there are going to be a lot jokes about 'dead rat and pig hearts' but you all are going to miss the obvious:

"...as a sort of flesh matrix..."
Imagine waking up from a cyber-dream only to realize you're competing with dead rats and pigs...

Re:Be still my beating heart! (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029414)

Imagine waking up from a cyber-dream only to realize you're competing with dead rats and pigs...

Are you that guy with the sign; "Will code HTML for food"?

Re:Be still my beating heart! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029610)

no, but it's uncanny you should post that. here's the deal, I've been using mechanical turk to complete HIT's (basically like break CAPTCHA's, or any other task you can't automate well, sometimes OCR, "what would a person search for who wanted to find", etc etc.) I have like $30 like that, but as you can see from the screenshots:

as HIT completer [imageshack.us]

as HIT requester (same account [imageshack.us]

I can't use that balance to request hits of my own! I have to charge as little as $1 into a requester account to use it, which is total bullshit because it's the same system.

Anyway I don't have a credit card, but I'd like a requester account with $1 so I can try some automation ($1 will be enough, because HITs are like a penny each), and in exchange I can code something simple for you in Python or Perl, or C or C++, or maybe do some resarch for you with Google if you don't have time to find something but know it's online, maybe differently phrased or something. Or anything else like that. (help you QA something -- i was an intern before as as a qa 'engineer' before, ie test your software, or anything else)

If you (or anyone) is up for that, please reply with an obfuscated e-mail so we can talk.

(p.s. of course you can just add $1 and then remove your payment method again, you dont have to trust me with your cc number, and you can even do that once i've coded for you or whatever)

Thanks a lot!

Big Step (1)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028782)

This is a big step for biotech, and I'm glad to see it, improving longevity and quality of life is a noble goal in science. I wonder when the development is complete, a machine organ replacements, or cellular organ replacements are the ones that better/more popular.

Re:Big Step (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028918)

Honestly, I've wondered about this myself. I think it will really be a personal choice more than anything. Of course, some people might appreciate the various advantages of each; mechanical hearts, after all, would likely be far easier to customize and adjust post-formation, giving you more control over the device once it's implanted. Also, it may be possible to achieve greater levels of performance with an artificial device than a biological one. The main challenge would be at the surgical step; it would require somewhat more work to ensure the body does not reject the artificial heart. It's likely that a biological heart would be cheaper than a mechanical one, but at the cost of some performance and ability to modify once it has been grown.

Re:Big Step (2, Insightful)

nsaneinside (831846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029658)

improving longevity ... is a noble goal in science.

Is it? I'm not so sure. True, there are few who wish to die, and advancing technology in the medical world allows us to delay death for some amount of time. Isn't that selfish, though, in a world where resources are at a premium, and hundreds of thousands die each year of malnutrition?

How much are we willing to put into saving a single life, when the same resources could be used to save a hundred?

Re:Big Step (1)

rothic (596907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029778)

Is it? I'm not so sure. True, there are few who wish to die, and advancing technology in the medical world allows us to delay death for some amount of time. Isn't that selfish, though, in a world where resources are at a premium, and hundreds of thousands die each year of malnutrition? You will be remembered as a hero. I, on the other hand, am a selfish prick and look forward to taking advantage (selfishly of course) of all that western science and technology has to offer.

Brains beat Evolution. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028882)

I'm firmly in Kurzweil's camp with developments like this. I intend to live just long enough (naturally) that I can live forever (engineered).

Re:Brains beat Evolution. (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028982)

Yeah, that's my basic goal. Keep myself as is healthy as a way of reaping the benefits of these technologies, with the end goal of some kind of indefinite lifespan. The way I figure it, I'll only be 63 in 2050, so my odds are pretty much 100% as long as somebody doesn't kill me. And if that happens, well, there wasn't much I could've done about it in the first place.

Re:Brains beat Evolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029018)

Not if I find you first, heathen

If you're a Boomer, forget it. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029064)

I intend to live just long enough (naturally) that I can live forever (engineered).

If you're a boomer, forget it.

(At the age of about 11, back in the late 1950s, I was expecting medical technology to be able to stimulate the growth of a "third set" of replacement teeth - tooth-by-tooth as necessary, by the time my adult teeth might be worn out or destroyed by decay or misadventure. More than half a century later where's THAT flying car?)

The FDA approval process takes long enough (currently a minimum of 10 years) that even if a treatment useful for your program is perfected TODAY it won't be available in time to be of use. If it's not in the pipe now, it won't be out of the pipe while you're around to benefit.

And since aging is "a natural process" rather than a "disease", don't expect treatments to reduce it to be considered at all - except piecemeal for parts of aging that can be construed as a specific pathology.

Interestingly, the congressional debates that led to the creation of the FDA considered the issue - and declared that if the new agency delayed the introduction of a useful drug by more tha 6 months it was counterproductive. How things have evolved...

For instance, decades ago the FDA (no doubt traumatized by the worldwide problems with Thalidomide babies, which the US had missed due to their foot-dragging), refused to accept tests done in other countries and delayed the approval of beta blockers for years - to the tune of 100,000 extra deaths from preventable secondary heart attacks.

Unfortunately the lesson was not learned. Delaying a drug that saves lives doesn't affect the carreer of the bureaucrat, while approving one that causes damage can destroy it.

And (short of electing Ron Paul and a congressful of people like) him don't expect the FDA to be streamlined, dismantled, or their approval process to be reduced from a roadblock to an advisory status.

Re:If you're a Boomer, forget it. (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029152)

Nope, I'm 20 and my family has had a history of living in to their 80's and later. Besides, I can always go overseas to get things done; medical tourism's just going to get bigger and better over time.

Re:If you're a Boomer, forget it. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029208)

And to think, medical is free over seas :D

Re:If you're a Boomer, forget it. (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029256)

Hell, in a lot of cases it's faster, cheaper, safer, and better than what I could get in the States. I'm not going to let my health go down the drain because the clowns in the US government want to hold on to some kind of bullshit fatalism about aging or the "sanctity of human life" (which honestly seems to be more a euphemism for killing off old people in favor of the young by denying research in to beneficial fields). I'll gladly take advantage of other countries' resources, and I'm sure they'll appreciate the business.

Re:If you're a Boomer, forget it. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029422)

How sure are you? I mean would you be paying for the health care or using their free system?

And I seriously don't think the US government has held back research on stem cells. They just don't pay for it. Not every medical tech needs to be funded by the government.

Re:If you're a Boomer, forget it. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029276)

The FDA approval process takes long enough (currently a minimum of 10 years) that even if a treatment useful for your program is perfected TODAY it won't be available in time to be of use. I

Fortunately, FDA jurisdiction is only over the United States. When you want a new heart, you'll just take a flight to Mexico or India, and have a nice vacation while you're at it.

-jcr

Have fun wasting your life on a pipe dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029252)

Kurzweil, Drexler, Vinge, Max More et al have been on about immortality/singularity tech coming RSN for twenty years now and, like the ideals of Artificial Intelligence that inspired this quasi-religious behavior, it's always not far off in the future.

Even when decades pass without significant advancement... it's supposedly coming, RSN.

And really, why would any normal person expect access to immortality-tech? So long as humanity is confined to Earth (and space settlement is "coming RSN" just like immortality) open access could ironically cause the collapse of civilization and the extinction of the human race.

Re:Have fun wasting your life on a pipe dream (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029380)

Life is already way different than when I was a child - Toffler's Future Shock has come to pass at least. Mapping the human genome in circa 2000 and now working on the protein foldings that those base pairs encode will absolutely lead to the ability to build a human (or so) machine out of meat. That is going to happen. Period. The only thing that is unsure is how long it will be held back for primarily religious hallucinations, how available it will be to the populace in general, and whether or not we bomb ourselves back to where Fire is state of the art in the mean time.

The Internet alone used to be complete fantasy now it's taken for granted in only 15 short years. Computing or Information Technology is the enabler for our current Biological Science. Now that we can just let the computers crunch 4 billion or so base pairs on their own connected to each other through a global network we're gonna see some Unicorns well within 50 years. I shit you not, accept it.

Re:Have fun wasting your life on a pipe dream (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029498)

We've gone from mapping the human genome in 2000 to offering basic genomic sequencing, creation of artificial lifeforms, and rudimentary bioengineering in less than ten years. That's pretty damn impressive considering the skeptics of the HGP said the exact same things; it was a "pipe dream", "too expensive", would take thousands of years to complete... ...and look at how utterly wrong they were. Genetic sequencing is offering insights in to untold numbers of conditions, diseases, and human attributes and it is making its way in to medicine. In 15, hell in the past 5 years we've developed so much in thousands of different fields that it is impossible to even remotely argue that progress is not moving forward at a blinding pace. Today, a cancer patient or similar victim of a serious illness has more tools at their disposal to ensure they will survive than ever before, and it is paying off in saving lives from the horribly painful and prolonged deaths that would have been inevitable only a short time ago. The world is changing faster and faster whether people like it or not. The only "pipe dream" here is pseudoskepticism, the willingness to doubt things not out of evidence (which is clearly supporting rapid change) but out of fear and misunderstanding. They've been proven wrong again, again, and again and there's no reason to believe they will ever be right.

Archive your optimistic posts now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029640)

...they'll be good for a huge belly laugh when you're elderly and have to grow up and actually face the spectre of death.

Technology is surely advancing at a rapid pace, but that does not mean you will become immortal in your lifetime or that a singularity will occur in 10 years and we will all become techno-gods.

There's not much difference between this hopeful "philosophy" and a religion promising a fantasy afterlife. It may be a cliche, but it's also wisdom: plan for the worst as you hope for the best. In your case, that means planning for a mortal life. Don't waste it preparing, in expectation of something that may very well never manifest in your lifetime.

Folks in 1900 were dreaming of moon travel by 1930; folks in 1970 were dreaming of moon colonization by 2000. The progress of technology is only linear in hindsight.

Re:Archive your optimistic posts now... (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029744)

The singularity is not meant to happen in 10 years. At best, it would be happening three decades from now; however, that concept itself is hardly my focus or the focus of many other people. I look at the time between now and then, when advances will Technology is obviously not linear, especially in hindsight, or else we would be advancing at the same rate throughout history. Technology would be advancing at the same rate now as it did 500 or 5000 years ago. The most obvious proof is in medicine and computing; we would not have been able to achieve decoding the Human Genome in a little more than a decade when the technology at its initiation was, thanks to its linear perspective, expecting it to take far, far longer. Not everything is advancing exponentially, either due to economics or practicality; some technologies are mature and there simply isn't much left to improve, but the technologies that allow accelerating progress are the ones advancing exponentially. Even so, who knows? We doubled life expectancy in 160 years the first time around, and it had not changed appreciably prior to that for all of human history, so I'm not inclined to believe that it's implausible that it will double again in a similar timeframe. Even if it did, that would still mean living to 170 would be average for most people in the year 2167, and that's pretty damn good no matter what way you look at it. I'm not going to worry about it either way, that's for sure.

Re:Archive your optimistic posts now... (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029762)

I'm not even optimistic about it the only thing I *am* sure of is that humanity as an entity will have the capability to do these things. Humanity is accelerating faster than ever before with each new development increasing the speed. Now what actually makes it into the hands of an individual is the only part thats open for debate.

My dream with genetics. (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029770)

This is wonderful news. I've always wanted my own Triceratops, ever since I was a young child. And if these benefits work, and I get one, I could even go on to get more and more kinds of dinosaurs! I figure I can set up some kind of biological preserve somewhere off the cost of Costa Rica(I've heard the island rental rates there are awesome). Then I just have to invite a few paleontologists, for science, a mathematician, for more science, a lawyer, for legal issues, and some kids, to see if it is fun. What could possibly go wrong?

You See,My Stethoscope Is Bobbing to The Throbbing (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028958)

...Of Your Heart.

It Goes Boom Boody-Boom Boody-Boom Boody-Boom, Boody-Boom Boody-Boom Boody-Boom-Boom-Boom

Well, Goodness Gracious Me! ...

Next up on OldTyme Radio overnight, Dr. Hanny Lector and the Cannibals with their top hit, Liver & Chianti. Hope you like it...

Dead rat hearts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028970)

Did they finally give up on using live rat hearts?

sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028978)

Get this perfected and available for me in 20 - 30 years?

Not quite creating. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22028988)

If I'm reading this right, they didn't so much create a new heart as bring a dead one back to life.

Which is possibly even cooler, and I'm sure you can find 50k hearts a year in the US that wouldn't normally be donatable because of time constraints. (A heart is (normally!) only good for 4 hours after death or removal iirc). And even beyond saved lives, we can hopefully get a better quality of life too, since there should be less time waiting for a transplant with a half dead body.

Hmm, do modern artificial hearts last 8 days reliably? And would a diseased heart be practical?

What about organ rejection issues, will those be causes by the dead heart, the stem cells, both?

Re:Not quite creating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029386)

I always thought that when a person died, after a short while most cells go into apoptosis and start suiciding.

I also always thought that once a cell begins the process of apoptosis it cannot be reversed.

whats the deal here?

Re:Not quite creating. (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029430)

They're not brining a dead heart back to life. They're getting rid of the cells for the dead heart leaving the extracellular structures intact and then reseeding this structure with new cells. Pretty neat. You'll still get rejection issues only if you use cells that aren't from the recipient of said heart. Otherwise, if you're able to use recipient cells to seed, there will be no rejection issues.

blimey. (3, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22028992)

if i read the article and the similar one on the BBC correctly then there was a shell of a heart they laced with stem cells that regrew into a heart functionality- but after 8 days operating at 2% so longer growth term is needed to by functional. this would go part way to solving rejection issue obviously, but if i am correct there is one slight problem you cannot take the patients heart, decellularize it and regrow it with stem cells because (1) bad as he heart is he needs it and (2) you still need to manufacture stem cells in sufficient quantity.

so there are a few options I see...

1. one use a dead donor heart as a shell and recellularize (that cannot be the correct term) with the patients stem cells assuming you can get them while he survives on what is left of his old heart and then transplant and hope there is no rejection

2. transplant the patient with an artificial heart until his old one can be repaired in the lab

3. find some way to create a fake heart "shell"? maybe extract some tissue from his current heart but not enough to kill him and create a template that the stem cells can be used to grow him a new heart over a few months.

of course they still need to manufacture a sufficient source of patient stem cells. does this sound reasonable?

of course in the UK, we have just got a new source of donors... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7186007.stm [bbc.co.uk] our prime minister has just decided to add the entire country onto the donor list unless we explicitly opt out. Gill the Arm would be amused...

10 years from now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029006)

Resident Evil: Zombies in RL

All I can say is.. (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029138)

Wow, I mean just wow. To think that most of the organs can be re-grown or replaced would provide a limited form of immortality, just replace an organ when it wears out and not to fear rejection.

The "other piece" is also nearly there. (3, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029146)

In a process called whole organ decellularization, they grew functioning heart tissue by using dead rat and pig hearts as a sort of flesh matrix, and reseeding them with a mixture of live cells. The goal is to grow replacement parts, using their own stem cells, for people born with defective tickers or experiencing heart failure.

Given that another project also underway is "writing" synthetic organs using a rapid prototyping system (3D plotter) loaded with live cells, structural proteins, and growth factors, the salvaged-and-decellularlized organ should be rendered unnecessary in short order.

The fact that a substrate with the right chemical markers can be repopulated into a working organ means the process can proceed in two steps. This may make it easier to accomplish - especially by reducing the need for functioning blood-supply plumbing to provide nutrition and oxygenation in the eary stages of construction.

But will you be able to afford it? (3, Informative)

joh (27088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029162)

I mean, really. The stinkin' rich will have their hearts replicated and grown one after another just in case, while you and me will just drop down, carried to a hospital, and die. Somehow that's *not* the future I was thinking of when I was young. The bits and pieces (hah!) are there meanwhile, but our society isn't there at all.

A friend of mine was working in a hospital when some old and ill VIP had a heart failure and he not only got a replacement right away (while others died waiting for a replacement for months), no, he also got a second heart when the first one was rejected by his immune system within a day. Well, he died anyway from unrelated causes soon after, but I can't get over the vision of two otherwise perfectly healthy normal guys dying just because two hearts were *wasted* this way. I want to vomit each time I have to think of that event.

Re:But will you be able to afford it? (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029212)

I doubt it will remain very expensive; the supply of hearts would not be tied to the supply of donors, as you could conceivably produce a lot of hearts from one person and use them on that person or supply them to multiple patients (especially when combined with advances in reducing rejection and complications from surgery). I think artificial and grown organs will get rid of a lot of the inequality in the transplant process, mainly because of the ability to utilize economies of scale to cut costs, something impossible when relying on a finite number of transplants.

Oblig. Cosby (2, Funny)

HiggsBison (678319) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029358)

It has escaped from the laboratory, and is heading for your house.

You should consider smearing Jello on your kitchen floor and setting fire to your sofa.

How about something simple first... (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029480)

Like growing new arteries for transplant within 24 hrs.

First heart attack might do a little damage to the heart but provided he survives the first year he should have another 25 years before he clogs up the new ones and by then he'll be having regular checkups.

Re:How about something simple first... (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029638)

I think it would be scaled up like that, mainly because it makes sense; if the rest of my heart is fine but only a part needs replacement, why go through with a full procedure when I could get the same benefits from a partial one? It would save time and money, among other things. (I imagine it would also mark the days when heart surgery becomes an outpatient procedure...)

not to rain on the parade (2, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029540)

but i remember details from high school biology, where you could put heart cells next to each other on a petri dish, and they would synch their beats

so the announcement seems like there is this major advance, heart cells beating in tandem, shaped like a heart. but it doesn't seem to take that much more technical acumen than what has been around for a while, as heart cells will naturally synch up

so they put the cells and grew them in a heart shaped matrix. then biorhythms and mother nature took over

they've been doing that with skin cells for awhile

again, not to rain on the parade, but i think the technical leap implied here is being overstated. it's good news nonetheless, and i cheer it

Horse cock synthesis (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22029634)

Couldn't they do the same thing with a monster horse cock - rebuild it using your own stem cells and transplant it onto you? It'd sure as hell surprise the wife.

Not good news (1)

phaggood (690955) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029724)

From the article:
Taylor said. "It opens a door to this notion that you can make any organ: kidney, liver, lung, pancreas - you name it and we hope we can make it,
Great, now I'm going to get even more emails about making my friends envious of my "mannishness". No, wait, she means 'internal organs'. Whew!

Was the doctor's name... (1)

autophile (640621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029790)

Was the head doctor's name Herbert West?

(ba-dump-bump. Bump-bump. Bump-bump...)

--Rob

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