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"Zombie Cells - Transformative Research for Heart Transplants"
Doctor Dispatch

Shaking Up Heart Transplant Eligibility: The Role of ‘Zombie’ Cells

A research team led by Dr. Gavin Richardson at Newcastle University is pioneering a study on ‘Zombie’ cells that could challenge existing practices in heart transplantation. The aim is to broaden the pool of available donor hearts, potentially bringing hope to hundreds of individuals on the waiting list.

‘Zombie’ cells, or senescent cells, are in a state of limbo – they’re not dead but aren’t functioning properly either. These cells, according to the British Heart Foundation, release molecules that can negatively affect surrounding cells, leading to inflammation and scar tissue formation in heart muscle, potentially leading to heart diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. By studying the ‘signature’ these ‘Zombie’ cells leave in the blood, the research team hopes to gain insights about the biological age of the heart, which could potentially change the way we look at donor heart suitability.

If successful, this research could herald a significant change in heart transplantation, increasing the pool of viable donor hearts by including those from older donors, thereby potentially saving more lives.



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