Sunday, February 23, 2014

Help for a Scarred Heart: Scarring Cells Turned to Beating Muscle

News Brief by Prachi Sharma

Biomedical engineers at the University of Michigan have made groundbreaking progress in cell reprogramming, transforming cells from scar tissue into beating heart cells. Previous studies have generally yielded less successful results, as they have not considered the environment the cells were in for gene expression. Scientists first infected fibroblasts from mouse embryos with a virus that carried mouse transgenes. These transgenes allowed the fibroblasts to transform into stem cell-like cells, and promoted cell division and growth. The team of scientists then added a protein that encourages heart tissue growth into the mixture, and found that nearly half the colonies of fibrin and fibrin-collagen mixes, in particular, were converting spontaneously into heart muscle. Researchers are currently looking to explain why fibrin is particularly successful in heart cell reprogramming, while many of the other mixtures seemed to weaken under strain. Though the team's findings have the potential to bring scientists closer to creating regenerating tissue damaged from heart attacks, numerous challenges exist, ranging from using safer viruses to promote stem cell activity, to ensuring that the new newly formed heart cells will be safely accepted by bodies. 

University of Michigan. (2014, February 12). Help for a scarred heart: Scarring cells turned to beating muscle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from
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