Research Spotlight: Dr. Doris Taylor is Building a Heart from Scratch

Here at Allevi, we’re always keeping an eye out for research being done in tissue engineering and stem cell biology. Together, these disciplines form the backbone of regenerative medicine.

So, it’s only natural that Dr. Doris Taylor’s research at the University of Minnesota and at the Texas Heart Institute caught our eye. Click the image below to check out this brief video describing the premise of her work:

In sum, her approach to creating tissues and organs for transplantation is this: first, wash out the existing cells in a donor’s organ (using a standard detergent called sodium dodecyl sulfate, or SDS) to leave only the extracellular matrix, and then re-cellularize this natural scaffold with the patient’s stem cells. After cell growth and proliferation, the end result is a brand new heart made from the recipient’s own cells. This approach is groundbreaking because it lessens, or nullifies altogether, the problems associated with donor organ rejection.

How could Allevi help out with this goal? Well, we know that an extracellular matrix scaffold is needed to seed the patient’s cells and eventually grow a heart. Why not 3D bioprint such a scaffold, instead of obtaining it by washing out the cells of a animal, or donor’s heart?

Imagine: a patient suffers cardiac trauma and is in need of new heart tissue, or a new heart entirely. A 3D bioprinter could print an extracellular matrix scaffold customized for the patient, and then the patient’s cardiac stem cells would be grown on the matrix. Given the proper incubation, environment, and growth factors, a new, healthy, beating heart could be ready for the patient in a matter of days. This takes the need for a donor out of the transplant equation.

Allevi is looking forward to what Dr. Taylor and her team come up with next. The technique she has developed could be applied to a wide array of organs, and even blood vasculature. The possibilities are endless, and a 3D bioprinter can only help realize the promise of regenerative medicine.

Click here for more information about Dr. Doris Taylor and her work.