Towards Biopacemakers

EurekAlert reports further steps towards the creation of biological alternatives for artificial pacemakers: "In guinea pig experiments, Johns Hopkins scientists fused common connective tissue cells taken from lungs with heart muscle cells to create a safe and effective biological pacemaker whose cells can fire on their own and naturally regulate the muscle's rhythmic beat. ... Other biopacemaker technologies, Cho notes, use adenoviruses as part of gene therapy to carry pacing genes into the heart, or use combinations of gene- and stem-cell therapies that may cause cardiac inflammation or uncontrolled cell growth that cause arrhythmias instead of stopping them. ... It is very difficult to guide stem cells into forming exactly the kind of cell needed, but not so with fibroblasts."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-11/jhmi-ctc111105.php

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