Researchers have developed a strategy to successfully manipulate stem cells into becoming heart muscle cells and they present their findings in the journal Molecular Therapy. This advance could help scientists develop better ways of deriving useful cell populations for therapeutic and research purposes.
Although human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can theoretically become any kind of cell in the body, directing this differentiation and selecting for a particular cell type is challenging. Chris Denning and his team manipulated certain genetic targets in their stem cells to enhance the selection of heart muscle cells from other cell types present in their culture. They increased the percentage of heart muscle cells present to as much as ninety-one percent by selecting out fast dividing cells and selecting for cells that expressed genes characteristic of these slower dividing cardiac cells.
According to the authors, this strategy could be easily manipulated to select for other cell types. This paper is one of the first to document the successful selection of one kind of cell in hESCs, an important step towards realizing their potential.
Dr. Chris Denning (University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK)
Dr. Robert Frederickson (University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7720)
Abstract available online. (C) Molecular Therapy press release.
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