The heart consists of four chambers, two atria and two ventricles. According to the center for disease control and prevention, 1% of all the live birth has a congenital heart defect. It may be a defect in the wall of the heart or partial septum in between the chambers of the heart. Some of the most common defects are ventricular septal defect (Defect in septum separating the two ventricles), atrial septal defect (defect in septum separating two atrium), Teratology of Fallot (multiple defects), Patent ductus arteriosus (incomplete separation of two main vessels arising from heart, aorta and pulmonary vein) and so on.
These are life-threatening situations and 25 percent of children with a congenital heart defect need surgery to fill up that defect and 4.2% of all neonates deaths are due to a congenital heart defect and 41, 4194 babies died due to this condition from 1999 to 2006. Survival rate depends on the time of diagnosis. More early is the diagnosis, better the prognosis. The cost of surgery and follow up procedures are also above the average income. (CDC, 2018)
One surgery was done in Children Hospital Colorado. The baby had a congenital heart defect involving right ventricle, left ventricle and aorta. The infant had to undergo three consecutive surgeries in order to treat this condition. But what if instead of too many surgeries, only one surgery cures the baby once and for all.
A new breakthrough in the treatment of congenital heart disease treatment is the use of stem cells to fill up the defect present in between the chambers of the heart. Stem cells are the primitive cells that can develop into any kind of cells from muscle to nerve. Jeff Jacot, a bioengineer has introduced this new idea and has revolutionized the treatment protocols and follow up procedures. At the University of Colorado, he and his team are working on this new technology known as regenerative medicine. They have extracted stem cells from the infant and use those cells to fill the gap present in the heart wall.
These stem cells have the ability to grow into any tissues so these cells will grow along with the heart tissues. So, there is no need of follow up and further surgeries in later life. In one of their experiments, they have extracted stem cells from infant before birth and harvested them. The results were fascinating as these cells can even grow blood vessels along with other layers of the heart wall. The main thing that differentiates it from previous treatments is that we are going to use living tissue that will grow along with heart instead of the patch that stays there and don’t contract and grow and has to be replaced in future. (Miles O’Brien, 2017)
This revolutionary technology is still under experiments and who knows one day we will be using this in our hospitals.
- (2018, Jan). data and statistics/congenital heart defect/NCBDDD/CDC . Retrieved from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/data.html
- Miles O’Brien, K. T. (2017, Octuber). Infant heart patch/Science nation. Retrieved from National science foundation: https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/infantheartpatch.jsp