Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD) have found how the body cells can be used to regenerate heart muscles.
GICD director Deepak Srivastava and colleagues were able to directly reprogram heart cells called fibroblasts to become beating heart cells called cardiomyocytes.
The study was successful in mice hearts and so, could have therapeutic implications.
"Scientists have tried for 20 years to convert nonmuscle cells into heart muscle, but it turns out we just needed the right combination of genes at the right dose," said Dr. Masaki Ieda.
"Introducing the defined factors, or factors that mimic their effect, directly into the heart to create new heart muscle would avoid the need to inject stem cells into the heart and all the obstacles that go along with such cell-based therapies," Ieda added.
This method also eliminates the risk that some stem cells might develop inappropriately to form tumours.
However, additional work will be necessary to refine the method and bring it closer to a practical therapeutic strategy.
The study is published in the current issue of Cell.