Mass General Scientists are Growing New Hearts in the Cells of Old Ones

(From an article in Atlas Obscura by Sarah Laskow)

For decades now, there’s been an image of human regeneration being a few cells dividing in a petri dish, hopefully growing into a shiny new organ.

But the truth is that scientists’ work is a bit more macabre. To make a new organ, it helps to be working from a dead one.

That goes for hearts, too. A little more than a decade ago, Dr. Harald Ott, now a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, developed a procedure that could rinse an organ of its cells, leaving behind an empty structure that can be repopulated with new ones.

In the lab, Ott and his colleagues have taken ghostly hearts and resurrected them as new ones. Shocked with electrical pulses, those new hearts have even started beating again.


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