• Question: is it possible to make an artificial heart like on the film 'Repo Men' ?

    Asked by joelm773 to Amy, Andy, Ollie on 23 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amy Reeve

      Amy Reeve answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      Hello 🙂

      I haven’t seen this film, although i wanted to, is it good?

      But it is possible to make an artificial heart. They are used quite often to replace damaged or faulty hearts 🙂 They are mainly used while patients wait for a transplant, but i think they can also be used more permanently.

      I don’t really like using wikipedia but this page gives you a really good idea of what the hearts are like 🙂


    • Photo: Andy MacLeod

      Andy MacLeod answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      Hi there joelm773.

      I’ve not seem that movie, but I think I know it’s already possible to use stem cells to grow heart CELLS. I don’t know if it’s possible to grow a whole heart yet, but it probably will be one day.

      Stem cells help us renew our body as it wears out. Our cells are being constantly replaced as old ones die out – and it’s stem cells that do this. When most cells divide they make two exact copies of the original cell. Stem cells are slightly different as they can renew themselves, as well as turning into lots of different types of cells, depending on the chemical signals they recieve. Each tissue has it’s own kind of stem cell, which ultimately come from the cells in the embryo that can turn into any other type of cell.

      If you wanted to grow an artificial heart, you’d need to do it from cardiac stem cells. Ideally using cells taken from the person who’s going to be receiving the heart, to minimise immune problems. Scientists are making great progress in working out the signals that a stem cell needs to turn it into a working heart cell. This technology has been used to replace damaged heart tissue – helping to mend a broken heart – but I don’t think it’s been used to create a whole new heart. Yet. I say “yet” a lot for these kinds of questions, because it’s always difficult to predict where technology will go in the future.


    • Photo: Ollie Russell

      Ollie Russell answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      I think this may have already been done in the lab. A group in America have grown a heart from stem cells that can pump blood! I dont think they have used it in transplants yet, but im sure they will soon. If you could grow a heart from your own stem cells then there would be no chance that it would be rejected 🙂

      Here is a news artcicle about it…