Navigation Links
Ordinary heart cells become 'biological pacemakers' with injection of a single gene

LOS ANGELES (EMBARGOED UNTIL DEC. 16, 2012 AT 1 P.M. EST) Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute researchers have reprogrammed ordinary heart cells to become exact replicas of highly specialized pacemaker cells by injecting a single gene (Tbx18)a major step forward in the decade-long search for a biological therapy to correct erratic and failing heartbeats.

The advance will be published in the Jan 8 issue of Nature Biotechnology and also will be available today on the journal's website.

"Although we and others have created primitive biological pacemakers before, this study is the first to show that a single gene can direct the conversion of heart muscle cells to genuine pacemaker cells. The new cells generated electrical impulses spontaneously and were indistinguishable from native pacemaker cells," said Hee Cheol Cho, PhD., a Heart Institute research scientist.

Pacemaker cells generate electrical activity that spreads to other heart cells in an orderly pattern to create rhythmic muscle contractions. If these cells go awry, the heart pumps erratically at best; patients healthy enough to undergo surgery often look to an electronic pacemaker as the only option for survival.

The heartbeat originates in the sinoatrial node (SAN) of the heart's right upper chamber, where pacemaker cells are clustered. Of the heart's 10 billion cells, fewer than 10,000 are pacemaker cells, often referred to as SAN cells. Once reprogrammed by the Tbx18 gene, the newly created pacemaker cells "induced SAN cells" or iSAN cells had all key features of native pacemakers and maintained their SAN-like characteristics even after the effects of the Tbx18 gene had faded.

But the Cedars-Sinai researchers, employing a virus engineered to carry a single gene (Tbx18) that plays a key role in embryonic pacemaker cell development, directly reprogrammed heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) to specialized pacemaker cells. The new cells took on the distinctive features and function of native pacemaker cells, both in lab cell reprogramming and in guinea pig studies.

Previous efforts to generate new pacemaker cells resulted in heart muscle cells that could beat on their own. Still, the modified cells were closer to ordinary muscle cells than to pacemaker cells. Other approaches employed embryonic stem cells to derive pacemaker cells. But, the risk of contaminating cancerous cells is a persistent hurdle to realizing a therapeutic potential with the embryonic stem cell-based approach. The new work, with astonishing simplicity, creates pacemaker cells that closely resemble the native ones free from the risk of cancer.

For his work on biological pacemaker technology, Cho, the article's last author, recently won the Louis N. and Arnold M. Katz Basic Research Prize, a prestigious young investigator award of the American Heart Association.

"This is the culmination of 10 years of work in our laboratory to build a biological pacemaker as an alternative to electronic pacing devices," said Eduardo Marbn, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and Mark S. Siegel Family Professor, a pioneer in cardiac stem cell research. A clinical trial of Marbn's stem cell therapy for heart attack patients recently found the experimental treatment helped damaged hearts regrow healthy muscle.

If subsequent research confirms and supports findings of the pacemaker cell studies, the researchers said they believe therapy might be administered by injecting Tbx18 into a patient's heart or by creating pacemaker cells in the laboratory and transplanting them into the heart. But additional studies of safety and effectiveness must be conducted before human clinical trials could begin.


Contact: Sally Stewart
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Related medicine news :

1. Citizen science more than a century later: Ordinary people go online to track Gulf oil spill
2. Ordinary chickens may be extraordinary in fighting cancer, says Texas A&M researcher
3. Carriers of gene variant appear less likely to develop heart disease
4. Yo-Yo Dieting Can Hurt the Heart, Study Finds
5. Stop-Smoking Drug Chantix May Carry Heart Risks, FDA Warns
6. U.S. Lifestyles Thwarting Heart Health Progress: Report
7. Fainting in Healthy People May Be First Sign of Heart Trouble
8. Massage and the Aboriginal Didgeridoo - A Transcendental Healing Experience in the Heart of New York City
9. Even Light Smoking Boosts Womens Risk of Sudden Heart Death: Study
10. Common Heart Drug Might Dampen Some Autism Symptoms
11. A Single Pill for Heart Disease Prevention? from the December 2012 Harvard Women's Health Watch
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... ENGAGE, at HIMSS’s Patient Engagement Summit . HealthAware is a technology company ... health programs and interventions via mobile devices that provide a framework for the ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... Houston, TEXAS (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 ... ... firm and solution provider of IBM software products, introduced a new company, RightSensor™ ... sensor systems and data communications capability. RightSensor™ provides a fully-managed approach for ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... NavaFit Inc. today announced the launch of its ... with, participate in local fitness & sporting events, and stay motivated. Users ... medical costs drive us to get more serious about fitness and wellness, individuals are ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... kind product that targets the unique health needs of new moms. Postnatal ... Pregnancy Association ( ), utilizes Nordic Naturals’ exclusive, new, ultra-concentrated omega-3 ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... 13, 2015 , ... California Southern University has named Dr. ... her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the renowned Johns Hopkins University—comes to CalSouthern ... Dr. McLeod’s long and successful nursing practice included a variety of patient care, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  SRI International ... to $100 million over five years by the ... part of the National Institutes of Health, for ... acute or delayed effects of radiation exposure. Under ... division of SRI International will provide services, facilities, ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  Nanomedical Diagnostics, a ... in research and diagnostics, announces the completion of ... led by Serra Ventures. ... providing low-cost, easy-to-use monitoring and diagnostic platforms that ... The funding round will enable the company to ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13 2015 ... of the "US & European markets for ... to their offering. --> ) ... & European markets for Meniscal Repair - 16 ... --> Research and Markets ( ) ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: