Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Rewiring Young Hearts

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - Stem Cell Guru

The vast majority of articles on this blog relate to stem cell cures for heart disease or other dioeseases that in the main affect adults, rather than kids.

However, about one in 22,000 children is born with serious flaw in the heart: The self-generated electrical impulse in the right atrium of the upper heart fails to reach the lower ventricles which prevents them from being stimulated to pump out blood after filling up.

Now, researchers led by cell biologist Douglas Cowan of Children's Hospital Boston are taking the very first steps in restoring electrical conduction in the ailing heart. His team of investigators has now carried out a 6-year study showing that, at least in rodents, a bridged circuit can be made from the body's own cells to electrically reconnect the bad wiring.

To make the 'patch' researchers started with muscle precursor cells called myoblasts, which are usually found in skeletal muscle and conduct electrical signals. Then the team implanted the structure into rats to electrically connect the upper and lower heart. It worked.

The next step for the team is to try to reproduce these results in larger mammals. To that end, Cowan's team is now trying the therapy in lambs.

This article can be found in this week's online edition of Science Magazine.


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