A new study is employing stem cells to repair heart attack damages.
The study is being conducted by a team of researchers, including Dr Chris Denning and Professor Stephen Hill, at the University of Nottingham.
As part of the study, researchers are developing a new system to monitor cardiomyocytes (cells of heart muscle tissue) in real time as they differentiate from stem cells into beating heart cells.
The system uses electrophysiology to record the electrical properties in a cell.
The researchers have already demonstrated that sufficient numbers of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes could be produced for detailed analysis and they plan to use new 'electrophysiology' systems to record changes in the cells when cultured.
"This research will enable rapid development of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes as a tool for understanding the heart and its diseases," Dr Denning said.
"But before we can consider using stem cells to treat heart-attack patients there are many problems which will take many years to solve. We don't yet know how to deliver the cells to a patient's heart and prevent them being washed away so that they actually stay in the heart and both survive and function," he said.
The researchers will also monitor how the cells respond to different pharmacological agents in order to improve drug-screening processes and reduce the need for animal testing.
"A key part of the project is to monitor the effects of different drugs on the cells. At present, only limited information is available on how they respond to pharmacological or gene modulating agents," he added.