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Francis Edwin Smit, Pascal Maria Dohmen
(Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2014; 20:161-163
End-stage heart failure is a major health problem, but implementation of guidelines and optimizing medical therapy for this devastating disease should decrease mortality. If optimal conservative therapy is no longer sufficient, a mechanical support system may be required as final destination therapy or as bridge-to-transplant. Since the first heart transplantation in 1967, this therapy has become the criterion standard for end-stage heart failure, but is limited due to organ shortage. Tissue engineering could help overcome this limitation and provide regeneration, remodeling, and growth potential. This so-called bio-artificial heart would be available, created by a decellularized extracellular matrix and seeded with in vitro proliferated autologous cardiovascular cells. Results of the first experimental studies have been promising, but numerous challenges must be met before this procedure will be available.