Here are two articles you need to see – one is from August, about literally “building” a tooth from stem cells, and one from just a few days ago about The Stanford University School of Medicine and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease working together to use stem cells to repair damaged heart muscle.
This is where cardiac research is going, though no one can predict how long it will take to get there. A lot of trials, most of them on animals, are being done to evaluate the usefulness of Stem Cells. Just the phrase stem cells generates controversy and starts a debate about the ethical use of Embryonic Stem Cells. Personally, I am opposed to the destruction of embryos to gather stem cells – but embryos are not the only source of embryonic stem cells. Cord blood, anyone?
And there may not be any need for controversy. It looks as if Adult Stem Cells work better, at least in heart muscle. But don’t go running to your doctor just yet, we’re still years away from this being useful.
And unfortunately there are still going to be cardiac surgeons and people with zippers for years to come: I doubt that we will ever totally eliminate the need for heart surgery, especially in CHDers. But through the use of artificial heart tissue (like the tissues that are being developed at Clemson University) and Stem Cells, I think Cardiac repair will be a lot different twenty years from now!