FEB 12, 2016 1:26 PM PST

Common Cells Transformed to Critical Heart Cells

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
Researchers have transformed mouse fibroblasts, the most common type of cell in mammalian connective tissue, into induced cardiac progenitor cells.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found there were 11 genes pivotal in embryonic heart development that could be used to genetically reprogram fibroblasts. The team narrowed down the number of necessary genes from 11 to five.

They found the necessary conditions for the cells to be effectively transformed and cultured in a lab setting. Then, from the five genes, they developmentally rewound the fibroblasts cells back in time and transformed the common cells into cardiac muscle cells, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells.

The researchers then tested the new cells on mice with induced heart attacks. They injected the cells into the damaged mice hearts. The engineered cells moved towards the damaged areas of the heart and created the three critical heart cell types, thus generating new heart muscle. The mice with the injected heart cells were more likely to survive than the mice without the injected cells.

Like stem cells, progenitor cells have the ability to replicate. However, in comparison to stem cells, “you can reduce the risk of tumor formation,” said cardiologist Timothy J. Kamp, who led the research team. Stem cells can turn into any of the 220 types of human cells. However, “[cardiac progenitor cells] are more committed to the heart lineages and are unlikely to form a tumor,” Kamp said.

The discovery could allow the development of a scalable method of creating a nearly unlimited supply of the three major types of heart cells. The billions of cells would be enough material to study heart disease in laboratory dishes. If the finding can be replicated in human cells, the discovery could jumpstart the development of new drugs, novel models for heart disease, and raw materials for treating diseased hearts by replacing diseased cells with healthy cells.
 

The research was published on February 11, 2016, in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
You May Also Like
MAR 06, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 06, 2020
Why Is Good Nutrition Advise So Hard to Come By
Nutrition advice seems to come from everywhere. Exposure to this advice, one is likely to find endless examples of conflicting information. This happens fo...
MAR 13, 2020
Immunology
MAR 13, 2020
Malaria drug treats lupus and prevents diabetes
A drug commonly used to treat certain types of malaria has been found to have some surprising synergistic effects: having an anti-inflammatory effect on lu...
MAR 31, 2020
Health & Medicine
MAR 31, 2020
20 Facts About the Placenta - A Lifeline Between a Mother and Her Baby
The placenta is the lifeline that connects the mother and her baby. It is a multi-functiona organ that is responsible for supporting all the growing needs of the fetus. It has different role...
MAR 25, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 25, 2020
Staying Fit While Avoiding COVID-19
For those used to working out at a gym, the current circumstances requiring us all to remain isolated as much as possible might be throwing off their routi...
MAR 29, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAR 29, 2020
Learning More About Boosting Immunity in Older Adults
Older adults are more susceptible to infections and don't generate a robust immune response after a vaccination....
APR 02, 2020
Cancer
APR 02, 2020
Diagnosing Cancer: SMOC2 and Thyroid Cancer
  Thyroid cancer is the most common of the endocrine cancers, with papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs) being the most common form. Thyroid cancer has...
Loading Comments...