Scientists transform skin cells into heart cells
Scientists have found a way to reprogram skin cells into heart cells, which may benefit people who have lost or damaged heart muscle due to a heart attack or disease.
In an animal study, scientists from the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco extracted skin cells from adult mice and created what they called a chemical “cocktail,” made up of four chemical compounds. To the cocktail the researchers added one genetic factor called Oct4. The result was a transformation of skin cells into cells that researchers said were “virtually indistinguishable” from heart cells, as the regenerated cells displayed many, although not all, of the characteristics of actual heart cells.
The study’s findings, published in Cell Reports, showed that 20 days after the experiment was conducted, the transformed cells exhibited patterns involving genes and electric signaling that are normally observed in heart ventricles. Researchers said that their findings are a promising advance in using cellular reprogramming as an effective method to regenerate damaged heart tissue.