Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_94254

Human stem cells make mouse heart beat again

19 August 2013
Appeared in BioNews 718

A mouse heart was able to contract again after its own cells were removed and replaced with human stem cells, a study in Nature Communications reports.

This research could pave the way for the regeneration of functional whole organs, which could be used for transplantation or testing new drugs in the lab.

To make the engineered heart, the team of scientists at University of Pittsburgh, Pitt School of Medicine, USA, took a heart from a mouse and removed all of its cells using detergents. The remaining protein scaffold was then seeded with human heart precursor cells, which had been produced by adding a combination of chemicals to human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). Growth factors were then added to encourage the heart precursor cells to differentiate into specialised heart cells such as cardiomyocytes and smooth muscle cells.

After a few weeks the engineered mouse heart had been rebuilt with human heart cells and began to pulse at a rate of 40 to 50 beats per minute.

'Our engineered hearts contain about 70 percent human heart precursor cells, which provide enough mechanical force for contraction', study lead author Dr Lei Yang told New Scientist.

The researchers found that the beating was not strong enough to pump blood effectively and the heart's rhythm also differed from that of a normal mouse. The team's next steps will therefore be to reconstruct the heart's electrical conduction network which could control the rhythmic heart beats.

Heart disease is the UK's biggest killer, causing about 200 deaths per day. Dr Yang noted that more than half of all heart disease patients do not respond to existing therapies and there is a shortage of donor organs for transplantation.

'Scientists have been looking to regenerative medicine and tissue engineering approaches to find new solutions for this important problem', said Yang. 'The ability to replace a piece of tissue damaged by a heart attack, or perhaps an entire organ, could be very helpful for these patients'.

In related news, a separate team of scientists at King's College London have found that stem cells injected into rodents with heart failure homed in on areas of damage and began to repair the tissue.

Both of the studies illustrate the potential of stem cell technologies for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Dr Yang said that in the future it might be feasible to take a skin biopsy from a patient and derive personalised stem cells, which could then be used to regenerate a replacement organ for transplantation. 'We hope to make a piece of human heart tissue soon but our dream is to regenerate a human heart organ', he added.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
22 September 2014 - by Isobel Steer 
Mice engineered to carry a human version of the 'language gene' can learn to navigate a maze faster than normal mice. The study offers some insight into how humans evolved to produce and understand speech....
14 April 2014 - by Dr Lucy Freem 
Turning on a single gene can regenerate the thymus in elderly mice, causing the immune system organ to double in size and make more white blood cells...
10 March 2014 - by Dr Greg Ball 
Researchers have developed a technique to grow cartilage structures from the stem cells found in human fat tissue. They hope that this will pave the way for ears and noses to be grown in the laboratory and used in transplants...
14 October 2013 - by Dr Greg Ball 
Large-scale production of liver and pancreas cells is becoming a possibility, as scientists have developed a cell culture method allowing stem cells to grow in the laboratory...
16 September 2013 - by James Brooks 
For the first time living tissue in mice has been induced into an embryonic state without any intervening preparation in the lab...
22 July 2013 - by Dr Katie Howe 
Human stem cells have been used to create networks of blood vessels in mice that functioned for nine months...
22 April 2013 - by Emma Stoye 
Researchers have identified a gene that regulates the regeneration of adult heart cells...
15 October 2012 - by Joseph Jebelli 
Scientists have successfully implanted human neural stem cells into the brains of children with a rare neurological disorder...
25 June 2012 - by Dr Daniel Grimes 
Human embryonic stem cells have, for the first time, been used to grow a crucial part of the eye, a paper in Cell Stem Cell reports. It is hoped that in the future transplantation of such tissue could help visually impaired people recover their sight...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.