Brain Cells Made into Heart Cells Successfully

by Tanya Thomas on  July 10, 2011 at 8:06 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Researchers have long anticipated that heart cells-the most sought-after cells in regenerative medicine-may help to repair injured hearts by replacing lost tissue and save millions of lives.
 Brain Cells Made into Heart Cells Successfully
Brain Cells Made into Heart Cells Successfully

While researchers have spent more than a decade trying to reprogram cell types in general, changing them into heart cells has so far been a stubborn challenge.

Now, a team at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is the first to demonstrate the direct conversion of a non-heart cell type into a heart cell by RNA transfer.

Working on the idea that the signature of a cell is defined by molecules called messenger RNAs (mRNAs), which contain the chemical blueprint for how to make a protein, the investigators changed two different cell types, an astrocyte (a star-shaped brain cell) and a fibroblast (a skin cell), into a heart cell, using mRNAs.

"What's new about this approach for heart-cell generation is that we directly converted one cell type to another using RNA, without an intermediate step," says James Eberwine, a pharmacology professor at Penn.

The team says that reprogramming a patient's cells to be heart cells would permit personalized screening for efficacy of drug treatments; screening of new drugs; and potentially as a cellular therapeutic, the researchers said.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: ANI

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