Friday, December 4, 2009

Heart Cells From Skin Cells!

Imagine some time in the future, a doctor needs a transplant for a patient. Instead of waiting for some one to donate an organ, etc... All the team has to do is gather up some skin cells, change them into the cells of the organ needed, then grow the part.

This is the promise of the new advance in Genetics from Israel:
Israeli scientists have discovered a way to create beating heart cells using human skin cells reprogrammed to become stem cells. The findings could lead to advances in disease research, and could in theory be used to repair damaged or diseased tissues.

Published in the latest issue of Circulation, the findings by Professor Lior Gepstein of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology could make it possible to clinically repair damaged human hearts.

Such an application is at least 10 to 20 years away, says Gepstein, but the process can already be utilized for in-depth study of genetic diseases and the development of personalized drugs for irregular heartbeats and other inherited disorders.

Transforming our cells through reprogramming
The team's work is based on the research of Japanese scientists followed by other groups, who generated "induced pluripotent stem cells" (iPSCs) from adult mouse and human skin cells. The iPSCs can be turned into almost any type of body cell - something that experts previously thought possible only with embryonic stem cells - and could, in theory, be used to repair damaged or diseased tissues.

Taking a patient's own cells and turning them into iPSCs for use in tissue repair and regeneration would also eliminate the risk of rejection by the body.

Gepstein and his team from Technion's Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Rambam Medical Center used reprogrammed iPSCs derived from healthy human subjects' skin cells with the characteristics of pluripotent embryonic stem cells. They were then able to convert them into heart cells with all the necessary properties such as expression of heart-related genes, spontaneous electrical activity, mechanical contraction, and response to various hormones such as adrenaline.

According to Gepstein, the rejuvenation of human cells and their transformation into iPSCs can be accomplished with almost any human cell.

Read the full story here.
Remember the yelling by those on the left that people are dying because scientists cannot use embryonic stem cells? And now the Obama Administration allows the federal funding of stem cell research using embryonic stem cells.

Strange isn't it that Israeli doctors and scientists are using and researching with adult cells and adult stem cells, with very promising results. Could it be that those on the left were wrong? That any stem cell, and in the future any cell, could be used?

Now there is hope. But not in the short term. For research that involves human genetics MUST be done slowly and carefully, least a mistake or accident be unleashed upon the species. But hopefully, with G-d's help, one day many people will be cured using their own cells and genes.

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