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Ordinary heart cells become 'biological pacemakers' with injection of a single gene
Date:12/16/2012

tinctive 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.


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Contact: Sally Stewart
sally.stewart@cshs.org
310-248-6566
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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