Yale researchers successfully grew a new blood vessel using stem cells in a 4-year-old girl’s heart in an experimental treatment that could advance the burgeoning field of regenerative medicine.
Four-year-old Angela Irizarry was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, meaning she has only a single pumping chamber in her heart, a potentially lethal defect.
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Doctors at Yale University successfully implanted a biodegradable scaffold seeded with the four-year-old girl’s own bone-marrow stem cells to help treat this serious heart defect.
To fix the problem, doctors implanted a bioabsorbable tube seeded with cells, including stem cells that had been harvested from Angela's bone marrow.
Designed to dissolve over time, the tube gradually disappeared, leaving in its place a conduit produced by Angela's cells that functions like a normal blood vessel.
The researchers concluded that transplanted cells didn’t build new parts themselves, but caused the body to induce regeneration, suggesting that regenerative forces can be reawakened with strategically implanted stem cells and other engineered tissues.
Claudia Vigorito is another mother whose daughter suffers from a heart defect. Several years ago she banked the stem cells from her daughter's baby teeth with Store-A-Tooth.
On hearing the story about the success of the Yale researchers, Claudia reacted:
“This is amazing news – an opportunity like this could mean no more open heart surgeries for Gabby!! Makes me glad I’ve banked her stem cells.”