Proteins could repair heart cells

Damaged heart tissue could be repaired by using a set of naturally occurring human proteins to generate new cardiac cells, the findings of a US study suggest.

Dr Jun Takeuchi and Dr Benoit Bruneau of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco identified three proteins that direct the differentiation of embryonic mouse stem cells into beating heart tissue. They believe the discovery represents a first step towards making new, therapeutically useful heart cells.

The heart has little regenerative capacity after damage, the researchers point out, and this has led to interest in understanding the factors required to produce new heart cells.

'The combination of these factors establishes a robust mechanism for controlling cellular differentiation, and may allow reprogramming of new cardiomyocytes for regenerative purposes,' the researchers said.

'Harnessing this potential might lead to the production of cardiac cells suitable for therapeutic use,' they add.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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