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Manufacture of cardiac cells

Manufacture of cardiac cells



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The results of research published in the journal Nature indicate that treating mouse embryonic cells with a protein cocktail activates the production of new cardiac muscle cells. The recipe, developed by scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, could one day be used to make tissues for cell replacement therapies that restore a diseased heart to function.

Working with one-week-old mouse embryos, Benoit Bruneau and Jun Takeuchi discovered that a trio of proteins could direct certain embryonic cells to form cardiac muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes.

These cells not only produced proteins characteristic of the early stages of development of heart cells, but eventually began to beat.

Human trials of cell therapy for heart disease, most of which have used stem cells derived from the patient's own blood, have yielded mixed results. It could be that transplanting cardiac myocytes instead of undifferentiated cells is more efficient.

Scientists had previously been able to persuade embryonic stem cells - special cells, derived from embryos, capable of forming any cell in the body - to form heart cells capable of beating on a plate; but these methods are less effective, since they tend to produce other types of cells, such as the muscle cells that make up the blood vessels, in addition to the myocytes that make up the cardiac musculature. In the new study, the researchers created heart muscle cells from tissue that was not intended to form a heart. What's more, they discovered that some tissue sections located outside the embryo - cells that would eventually form the placenta - were also transformed with their treatment.

The fact that scientists can convert partially differentiated cells into cardiac muscle cells is good news for future therapies.

Finally, "we might be able to make cardiac myocytes from any type of cell," Bruneau noted; specifically, cardiac fibroblasts, which are the cells that form scar tissue after a heart attack. “That would be the ideal therapy; to be able to transform those scar cells into cardiac myocytes and restore them to the function they had lost ”, added Bruneau.

Source: Technology Review



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