Heart Cells on Demand
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Heart Cells on DemandBy the time you finish reading this, three Americans will have had a heart attack. That’s why a great deal of research has focused on how to heal the heart after such an ordeal.

A new study reveals stem cells from one Macaque monkey successfully transplanted into five other Macaques, healing their hearts after a heart attack. If this works in humans, we could match stem cells between donors and heart attack patients just like we do with organ donation.

This is possible because scientists can now reprogram nearly any cell in the body into an iPSC, or inducible pluripotent stem cell which can then become any other cell in the body. They can, under specific lab conditions, make cells that repair damaged organs.

Ideally, you’d harvest cells from the patient to make iPSCs for that person, but it’s time intensive and expensive. That’s why iPSCs from one person that can be generated into a large number of heart cells then stored and used to treat many people would solve most of the problems. To get around immune system rejection, you’d have to match the donors to recipients.

To test this possibility, researchers created iPSC’s from the skin cells of one macaque. The cells were then reprogrammed to develop into heart muscle cells, then grown to large numbers in the lab. Five hundred million were injected into the damaged hearts of five organ matched macaques given two anti-rejection drugs. After 12 weeks, the monkeys experienced no rejection of the cells. The implanted heart cells became integrated into the recipient hearts and developed the electrical connections required for them to beat.

If this works in humans, an entirely new model of treating organ damage would emerge.

For more information…

Stem Cells May Help Repair Broken Monkey Hearts
Stem cells may be able to repair broken hearts, a small new study in monkeys finds...

iPS Cells and Reprogramming: Turn Any Cell of the Body Into a Stem Cell
Reprogramming allows us to turn any cell of the body into a pluripotent stem cell. Its discovery in 2006 surprised many scientists and changed our thinking about how cells work. Reprogramming has opened up exciting possibilities for studying and treating disease...

Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, most often by a build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries). The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle...