Thursday, August 5, 2010

A built-in source for new heart cells

"In heart disease, cardiac muscle gradually dies off and, with little or no way to regenerate those cells, that can ultimately lead the heart to fail. But scientists reporting in the August 6th issue of Cell, a Cell Press publication, might have found a way to fix those losses. They've devised a three-ingredient molecular cocktail that transforms fibroblasts – structural cells that the heart is chock full of – directly into beating heart cells. "In the cardiac field, we've been trying for over 20 years to figure out how to convert non-muscle cells into cardiac muscle," said Deepak Srivastava of the University of California, San Francisco. "Now we've found a way to change fibroblasts – which make up 50 percent of all heart cells -- into new cardiomyocytes." Researchers had been searching for a master regulator of cardiac muscle – a single ingredient that could drive the formation of heart muscle. That kind of master had been found for skeletal muscle in the 1980s, but finding the same for the heart turned out to be a bigger challenge" - EurekAlert

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