The molecular beacons themselves are small devices which only become fluorescent when they attach to cells which have particular. Here, they are targeting a specific protein found in the muscle cells of the heart.
This technique is expected to have many far reaching applications in regenerative medicine, as well. Damaged heart muscle cells from cardiac failure or heart attack could be could be healed using purified transplanted cardiac muscle cells.
Other applications are expected because of the beacon method's ability to be applied to other types of cells produced from stem cell cultures. One of the researchers on the project, co-senior author Young-sup Yoon, MD, PhD, professor of medicine (cardiology) and director of stem cell biology at Emory University School of Medicine, weighs in on the possibilities:
"Often, we want to generate a particular cell population from stem cells for introduction into patients, but the desired cells often lack a readily accessible surface marker, or that marker is not specific enough, as is the case for cardiac muscle cells. This technique could allow us to purify almost any type of cell."
They believe the next big step for developing these purified cells for therapeutic use toward cardiac diseases will be finding a method for developing them into artificial tissues. (sciencedaily.com, 9/5/2013)
"There are many more stories of incredible advances like this one being made in research and science tech, which is a great jobs boon for scientists and all of their supporting staff. It's an exciting time and the job numbers are most definitely reflecting that. I expect that we will continue to see this in the next quarter as we did in the last," says John Burkhardt Managing
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