Piero Anversa, Italian scientist and director of regenerative medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard University in Boston is ready to perform the first biological by-pass in history. This evening in Milan during a meeting called ‘Futuro della Sanita’ (The Future of Health), Anversa explained that he has identified human coronary stem cells able to develop into coronary artery tissue.
He said, “My dream is for someone to have a heart attack, come to the hospital, and return home healthy.” For that to occur, it will be necessary to reproduce muscle and the large coronary vessels. He continued, “If we are able to accomplish this, it would change everything. Medicine that used to repair something that was damaged would become preventative. This will allow us to prevent cardiac deficiency.”
To explain himself better, Anversa took the reporter’s notebook and designed an artery and with a narrowed portion (known as a stenosis). All around the stenosis he added tiny dots, and said, “Here we will implant stem cells that will give rise to two new coronary blood vessels, one to the right, and another to the left of the stenosis, a real biological by-pass.”
Human testing must still be performed, but experiments have already been successfully carried out in rats (“we have observed integration between old and new circulation”) and recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).