The day is coming when heart surgery will be a thing of the past. Oh, there will continue to be the need for surgical procedures, I am sure, but the days of someone having a chest full of scars will end. More things can be done through Catherizations, and minimally invasive surgery is used more and more. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes an accepted procedure for cardiac surgery.
Repair and regeneration of hearts will also occur on the cellular level. Rather than full-scale surgery, one day you may be taken to the Operating Room to receive injections of Stem Cells directly into your heart. This is not a far-fetched idea, Clemson University has been working on bioengineered tissue since the 1960’s.
One of the problems standing in the way of this branch of science is the method of creating the Stem Cells. The collection and use of Embryonic Stem Cells is so controversial that a lot of research has been aimed at taking normal adult cells and converting them into Embryonic Stem Cells. A way to do it has been discovered, but it is very inefficient and leaves the rest of the cells suspect: In a given “dose” of altered cells, you can’t be quite sure how many have converted and how many haven’t.
But new research in China has found a way to increase the conversion rate. How? You won’t believe it:
A little Vitamin C not only makes the conversion rate from normal adult cell to Embryonic Stem Cell go up, it makes it happen at a faster rate. Early studies show that this change occurs both in mouse cells and in human cells.
Obviously this research is a long way from becoming medical fact; we probably won’t see it happen on a large scale in our lifetime. It is never one big, earth shaking discovery – it’s finding out one small fact, learning that one thing that just seems to fit and suddenly everything else makes sense. That’s when the world shakes!