The potential for ES cells to replace damaged or diseased cells in adult tissues has caused extraordinary interest in their therapeutic application. Dr. Lough’s research focuses on cardiac myocytes, which are found in the myocardium tissue, or heat muscles, that helps pump the chambers of the heart.
“After a patient has a heart attack, significant numbers of these cardiac myocytes die, and the damaged heart muscle is replaced by scar tissue that isn’t able to contract and help the heart beat. This problem is one of the biggest clinical issues faced by heart patients in the United States today,?says Dr. Lough.
In looking at ways to use ES cells, the research team had to consider the fact that the cells are “pluripotent,?meaning that they can develop into any of the 210 different cell types in the human body ?including tumors. That meant they had to determine how ES cells could be forced to become one single homogenous group of healthy cardiac myocytes to replace the damaged cells.
To address this problem, Dr. Lough looked at the way cardiac myocytes develop in the embryo itself. In research conducted on chick embryos since 1992, his team discovered that a group of very young embryonic cells called “precardiac endoderm?sends strong signals that cause adjacent cells in the embryo to become cardiac myocytes. Based on this finding, Dr. Lough reasoned that precardiac endoderm might similarly induce ES cells to become a homogeneous population of cardiac myocytes.
Working with Diane Rudy-Reil, Ph.D., a Medical College postdoctoral fellow, the investigative team recently discovered that chicken precardiac endode
Source:Hype And Hope