08:07 25 August 2013
Scientists from the Gladstone Institutes in America, who have previously applied gene therapy approach on mice, have done the same technique on human heart cells in a laboratory. The study has proven that scar-forming cells "can be reprogrammed successfully into beating heart cells.”
Dr Deepak Srivastava, who led the study, said: "Fibroblasts make up about 50per cent of all cells in the heart and therefore make up a vast pool of cells that could one day be harnessed and reprogrammed to create new muscle.
"We've now laid a solid foundation for developing a way to reverse the damage – something previously thought impossible – and changing the way that doctors may treat heart attacks in the future."
Last year, when the researchers where experimenting on live mice, they reported that by injecting “cocktail of genes” the scar-forming fibroblasts can be transformed into beating heart cells. This results to the heart’s improved ability to pump blood around the body.
Dr Ji-dong Fu, one of the authors of the study, said, as reported by The Telegraph: "While almost all the cells in our study exhibited at least a partial transformation, about 20 per cent of them were capable of transmitting electrical signals — a key feature of beating heart cells.
"Success rates might be improved by transforming the fibroblasts within living hearts rather than in a dish – something we also observed during our initial experiments in mice."
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