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Doctors report progress on growable heart valves

Sat., Sept. 15, 2007, midnight

MELVILLE, N.Y. – Doctors say they are a significant step closer to producing stem-cell-generated heart valves for children, structures that can grow with the child, eliminating the need for repeat surgeries as now is the case when conventional methods are used.

Medical researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston say they can create the valves from stem cells derived from bone marrow and coax those cells in the lab to grow into a functioning heart valve. The process is called tissue-engineering, an area of science in which investigators are attempting to develop replacement parts for structures damaged by disease and age.

Dr. John Mayer said the valves should be available for clinical trials within the next three years.

“These are stem cells derived from the bone marrow,” Mayer said. “They are not embryonic stem cells.”

Mayer and his collaborators report their work in this week’s edition of Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.


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