Skin Cells From Heart Failure Patients Made Into Healthy New Heart Muscle Cells

Editor's Choice Main Category: Cardiovascular / Cardiology Article Date: 25 May 2012 - 0:00 PDT

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This achievement is significant, as it opens up the prospect of treating heart failure patients with their own, human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to fix their damaged hearts.

Furthermore, the cells would avoid being rejected as foreign as they would be derived from the patients themselves. The study is published in the European Heart Journal. However, the researchers state that it could take a minimum of 5 to 10 years before clinical trials could start due to the many obstacles that must be overcome before using hiPSCs in humans is possible.

Although there has been advances in stem cell biology and tissue engineering, one of the major problems scientists have faced has been lack of good sources of human heart muscle cells and rejection by the immune system. Furthermore, until now, scientific have been unable to demonstrate that heart cells created from hiPSCs could integrate with existing cardiovascular tissue.

"What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it's possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are health and young - the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born," said Professor Lior Gepstein, Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Physiology at the Sohnis Research Laboratory for Cardiac Electrophysiology and Regenerative Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, who led the study.

In the study, Professor Gepstein, Ms Limor Zwi-Dantsis, and their colleagues retrieved skin cells from two male heart failure patients, aged 51 and 61 years, and reprogrammed the cells by delivering 3 transcription factors (Sox2, Oct4, and Klf4) in addition to a small molecule called valproic acid, to the cell nucleus. The team did not include a transcription factor called c-Myc as it is a known cancer-causing gene.

Professor Gepstein said:

In addition, the team used an alternative strategy involving a virus transferred reprogramming data to the cell nucleus. However, the team removed the virus after the information had been transferred in order to avoid insertional oncogenesis.

Skin Cells From Heart Failure Patients Made Into Healthy New Heart Muscle Cells

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