The Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology, a new collaboration with the Texas Heart Institute and the Texas A & M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, reminds us that we are living in the 21st century.
Governor Rick Perry announced a $3 million investment through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund that creates the Center. The work they about to embark on is mind-boggling.
Dr. Doris Taylor is the director of Regenerative Medicine Research at the Texas Heart Institute and will lead the research at the new multi-site center.
“We’re interested in making a difference in the lives of people with disease,” Dr. Taylor told KTRH News. “We really believe here at the Texas Heart Institute that heart disease is the number one killer of people worldwide, one of a number of diseases that occur because the body can’t repair itself, and it can’t repair itself because as we age we lose stem cells. Stem cells are the tools that the body uses to repair itself. So we want to essentially take cells from your body and use them, revitalize them, put them in an organ, put them in a tissue and give you what you need.”
Regenerative Medicine is the process of replacing or regenerating human tissues and organs that may involve the use of stem cells. Because a person’s adult cord stem cells can be reinserted into the body without the tissue rejection that accompanies all transplants the application of stem cells are an increasing focus in regenerative medicine.
“Every year tens of thousands of people die waiting for a transplant,” says Dr. Taylor. “We’re committed to helping overcome that donor shortage. Everyone who undergoes an organ transplant today has to take drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent rejection. If you needed a heart, for example, we would take a heart from a pig, (we already use pig heart valves for transplants), so we would take a whole [pig] heart, strip it of cells, and then we would take your stem cells and use them to build an organ that matches your body. It’s taking personalized medicine to a new level.”
Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina is a leader in the field. Muscle and bladder cells were taken from the bodies of several patients, cultivated them in petri dishes, and then took bladder-shaped molds and layered each with stem cells. Within weeks they were functioning bladders, and were transplanted into the bodies of the patients. They are now working on harvesting 22 organs.