An estimated are born with the Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) in the United States. In taming the high infant mortalities directly associated with heart defects, researchers have found a breakthrough by exploiting the working knowledge of mitochondria-the unit that powers the cell functions.
According to a released by the New York Times, Doctors at Boston Children have come up with a way that entails transplanting the infant’s mitochondria to the injured cells. The mitochondrion was retrieved from the baby’s healthy cells.
Saving An Infant’s Life
Soon after Georgia Bowen was born, she went into cardiac arrest which necessitated the doctors to take her to the intensive care unit. A set of machines was used to supplement the heart and lungs. It was here that doctors realized that the infant’s heart was feeble.
After a while, she was transferred from Massachusetts General Hospital to Boston Children’s Hospital for further treatment. Like a drowning man, doctors were forced to clutch at any theoretical sound procedure that could save the infants life. Without a clinical trial, scientists were compelled to take the risk of harvesting numerous mitochondria from the cells in the abdomen and transplant them to the damaged heart parts. The rest is history.
The Power of Teamwork
The procedure was spearheaded, by Dr. Emani, a pediatric surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dr. McCully, a scientist at Beth Israel. A team of scientist conjoined by the interest of bridging the knowledge gap in heart defects in adults and infant populations.
Dr. McCully the lead investigator of the procedure through his research on pigs unearth the power of mitochondria to heal damaged pigs heart.
The Science Behind This Heart defects Treatment
The human cell is constituted by specialized subunits A.K.A organelles. Mitochondria (singular Mitochondrion) which forms part of the cell organelle is responsible for powering the cell. They perform the role of providing energy, in form of , to the eukaryotic cells.
Shutting off oxygen incapacitates the mitochondria leading to malfunctioning of cell functions.Ultimately death occurs if the situation is not remedied.
Promising Trial Figures
So far 11 babies have received the mitochondria treatment with eight of them making full recovery. Statistics are in favor of the procedure. The study findings report that none of the 35 percent of infants who didn’t undergo the mitochondria transfer procedure gained full recovery.
It is anticipated that more trials will be undertaken in different pediatric hospitals in the United States to assess the results. To hasten the clinical trial process, scientists have elected to co-opt adult patients to increase the study finding statistics power. Furthermore, the researchers and scientists are working on having mitochondria used to treat adults.
According to Dr. Smith, chief cardiothoracic surgeons at Duke University, plans are underway to having mitochondria introduced to a patient’s coronary arteries. If the procedure is successful then it’ll reduce the number of patients seeking heart transplants.
Researchers acknowledge that more trials need to be done to monitor the patients’ condition. Nevertheless, this breakthrough is a step in the right direction.