Heart derived stem cells develop into heart muscle

Apr 23, 2008

Dutch researchers at University Medical Center Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute have succeeded in growing large numbers of stem cells from adult human hearts into new heart muscle cells. A breakthrough in stem cell research. Until now, it was necessary to use embryonic stem cells to make this happen. The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Stem Cell Research.

The stem cells are derived from material left over from open-heart operations. Researchers at UMC Utrecht used a simple method to isolate the stem cells from this material and reproduce them in the laboratory, which they then allowed to develop. The cells grew into fully developed heart muscle cells that contract rhythmically, respond to electrical activity, and react to adrenaline.

“We’ve got complete control of this process, and that’s unique,” says principal investigator Prof. Pieter Doevendans. “We’re able to make heart muscle cells in unprecedented quantities, and on top of it they’re all the same. This is good news in terms of treatment, as well as for scientific research and testing of potentially new drugs.”

Doevendans will use the cultured heart muscle cells to study things like cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms). Stem cells from the hearts of patients with genetic heart defects can be grown into heart muscle cells in the lab. Researchers can then study the cells responsible for the condition straight away. They can also be used to test new medicines. This could mean that research into genetic heart conditions can move forward at a much faster pace. In the future, new heart muscle cells can likely be used to repair heart tissue damaged during a heart attack.

For some time now, it has been known that the heart is a source of stem cells. Although in the past researchers from other countries have succeeded in using these cells to make heart muscle cells, this always required the presence of heart muscle cells from newborn mice or rats in the growth medium. The stem cells discovered by the UMC Utrecht researchers are able to develop on their own. Heart muscle cells can also be made from embryonic stem cells. The disadvantage of this method is that the yield is low, because not all cells develop into muscle cells. Also, the ethical considerations of isolating stem cells from embryos are the subject of controversy.

Source: University Medical Center Utrecht

Explore further: Recombinant peptide for transplantation of pancreatic islets in mice models of diabetes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Measuring the pulse of trees

Mar 16, 2015

I read many years ago that if you wanted a tree to recognise you, you would need to sit quietly at its base for a week. Very Zen!

New study shows safer methods for stem cell culturing

Feb 25, 2015

A new study led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the University of California (UC), San Diego School of Medicine shows that certain stem cell culture methods are associated with increased DNA mutations. ...

Nano-antioxidants prove their potential

Feb 09, 2015

Injectable nanoparticles that could protect an injured person from further damage due to oxidative stress have proven to be astoundingly effective in tests to study their mechanism.

Stem cells aid heart regeneration in salamanders

Apr 29, 2014

Imagine filling a hole in your heart by regrowing the tissue. While that possibility is still being explored in people, it is a reality in salamanders. A recent discovery that newt hearts can regenerate may ...

Recommended for you

Novel nanoparticle therapy promotes wound healing

18 hours ago

An experimental therapy developed by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University cut in half the time it takes to heal wounds compared to no treatment at all. Details of the therapy, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.