Thursday, February 12, 2009

Skin Cells Programmed to Become Heart Cells

Using techniques of induced pluripotent stem cell conversion, scientists at the University of Wisconsin created heart cells out of skin cells. The idea is to take a person with heart failure, make functioning replacement heart cells from abundant skin cells, and give the person what is in essence a new heart.
"This is the first demonstration that human induced cells can form different types of heart cells in a dish," said study co-author Tim Kamp, a University of Wisconsin cell biologist.

The latest findings, published Thursday in Circulation Research, suggests that failing hearts might be mended.

"We didn't know whether they could form heart cells efficiently," said Kamp. "But they successfully formed heart cells with all the electrical and organizational properties we'd expect."

In the last few years, induced pluripotency has been hailed as an uncontroversial alternative to embryonic stem cells, production of which requires the destruction of embryos.

Reprogramming flakes of skin would be a far easier alternative. _Wired



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