A new method through which the damaged heart muscle could be treated by converting cells derived from patients into heart muscle cells has been developed by a group of researchers, including one of an Indian origin.
The investigators previously reported the ability to convert scar-forming cells in the heart (called fibroblasts) into new, beating muscle in mice that had experienced heart attacks, thereby regenerating a heart from within.
They accomplished this by injecting a combination of three genes into the animals' fibroblast cells.
Senior author Dr. Deepak Srivastava of the Gladstone Institutes and its affiliate, the University of California, San Francisco, said that this gene therapy approach resulted in new cardiac muscle cells that beat in synchrony with neighboring muscle cells and ultimately improved the pumping function of the heart.
Srivastava and his co-workers coaxed fibroblasts from human foetal heart cells, embryonic stem cells, and newborn skin grown in the lab to become heart muscle cells using a slightly different combination of genes, representing an important step toward the use of this technology for regenerative medicine.
The research has been published online in the journal of the International Society of Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Reports.