Cells derived from human embryonic stem (ES) cells can impart a new rhythm to pig hearts, according to a report in the October issue of Nature Biotechnology. The pacemaker activity of the transplanted human cells shows that they integrate functionally in the recipient pig hearts and underscores the potential of human ES cells for cardiac repair.
Before human ES cells can be applied in regenerative medicine, scientists must determine whether these cells (or their progeny) can heal injured tissues in animals. Lior Gepstein and colleagues generated heart cells from human ES cells in a culture dish and transplanted them into the hearts of pigs. The pigs had an abnormally slow heart rate that was induced surgically. The transplanted human heart cells partially corrected the abnormality in the pig hearts, like a biological version of an electronic pacemaker. Ultimately, the authors suggest such cell therapies may be used as an adjunct to conventional mechanical pacemakers.
Lior Gepstein (Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)
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(C) Nature Biotechnology press release.
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