Heart attacks may respond to treatment with cells derived from human embryonic stem (ES) cells, according to a paper published online in Nature Biotechnology. Charles Murry and colleagues find that rats subjected to experimental heart attacks show improved cardiac function four weeks after receiving a transplant of heart muscle cells generated in a dish from human ES cells.
Human ES cells are considered a promising source of cells for regenerative medicine because, in theory, they can be taken off the laboratory shelf, coaxed into becoming any kind of specialized cell for repairing damaged organs and given to any patient. But many problems must be solved before this vision is reduced to practice.
Murry and colleagues address two critical problems in heart regeneration. First, they improve the efficiency with which ES cells are converted into heart cells. Second, they improve the survival of such heart cells after transplantation into damaged animal hearts using a 'survival cocktail'-- a mixture of chemicals that blocks various causes of cell death. By combining these techniques, they succeeded in slowing the progression of heart failure in the treated animals.
Charles Murry (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA)
Additional contact for comment on paper:
Loren Field (Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Biotechnology press release.
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