IMPACT

Doris Taylor, Artificial Heart Pioneer, Taking Bold Steps Toward Growing A Human Heart

07/10/2013 09:13 EDT | Updated 07/10/2013 12:14 EDT

Doris Taylor isn't looking to build an artificial heart from scratch.

The renowned cardiac regeneration scientist starts by harvesting organs from fresh cadavers.

The idea, as detailed in the science journal Nature, is to re-engineer those harvested cells, in hopes of making them beat again.

Her work is being hailed as a key step toward building a fully functional artificial heart -- for humans.

Approved by Dr. Frankenstein? Taylor certainly doesn't shy from the comparison.

In the Nature article, she says "It was actually one of the bigger compliments I've gotten."

Taylor's team at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston are on the forefront of groundbreaking research into "whole organ decellularization" -- essentially removing cells from hearts of animals and, yes, humans and using them build new hearts.

As BioNews Texas reports, "by repopulating the framework with other human adult stem cells and giving it a blood supply, the heart regenerates, taking on the characteristics and functions of a revitalized beating heart."

Sound a little far-fetched?

In 2008, Taylor reportedly created a basic beating heart for a rat using her cell-replacement technique -- a method that she is applying to other organs as well.

And humans?

“I think it's eminently doable,” she tells Scientific American, adding, “I don't think it's simple.”

According to Statistics Canada, heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada, claiming a life, on average every seven minutes.

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