Induced Pluripotent Cells Demonstrated to Repair Heart Damage

The research community is rapidly reproducing the past ten years of stem cell technology demonstrations, using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells this time around. You'll recall that iPS cells are normal cells - usually skin cells - reprogrammed to act as though they are stem cells. The methodology is well within reach of any laboratory previously working on stem cells, and many research groups have dived into the fray since the first publication of the reprogramming method. Rapid progress has been made in a very short time, a characteristic state of affairs for biotechnology these days.

As a recent paper shows, iPS researchers have reached the point of demonstrating regeneration of damaged hearts in mice. Non-scientists might prefer the press release to the original paper:

The ultimate goal is to use iPS cells derived from patients to repair injury. Using a person's own cells in the process eliminates the risk of rejection and the need for anti-rejection drugs. One day this regenerative medicine strategy may alleviate the demand for organ transplantation limited by donor shortage, the researchers say.


The Mayo Clinic team genetically reprogrammed fibroblasts via a "stemness-related" human gene set to dedifferentiate into an iPS cell capable of then redifferentiating into new heart muscle. When transplanted into damaged mouse hearts, iPS cells engrafted after two weeks, and after four weeks significantly contributed to improved structure and function of the damaged heart.

At this rate, I'd guess at it being no more than another few years before the first clinical trials in humans are getting started. They will mirror the trials that have taken place for heart disease in recent years, using much the same methods, but replacing stem cells cultured from the patient's existing stem cell populations with stem cells created from scratch using a skin sample.

From a high level perspective, you might view this sort of early application of iPS cell technology as an infrastructure improvement for stem cell medicine - a similar end result, but accomplished more rapidly and with less cost. That will make it possible for more groups to offer these services, which allows a more competitive marketplace, which in turn spurs more learning and research.

ResearchBlogging.orgNelson, T., Martinez-Fernandez, A., Yamada, S., Perez-Terzic, C., Ikeda, Y., & Terzic, A. (2009). Repair of Acute Myocardial Infarction With Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Induced by Human Stemness Factors Circulation DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.865154


plesantly surprised to be reading about all the wondwerful research being conducted by people dedicated longevity of the human specie. At 71 yrs. of age I realize how extremely important it is to have some understanding of the aging process because we can prepare for what is to come. It should be part of our educational curriculum. I will bring this up to my representatives in government both for funding and inclusion. Thank you.

Posted by: samuel pena at July 22nd, 2009 1:04 PM

This is exciting news.It's encouraging to realize the well spent efforts of our scientist and doctors are reaching peaks of success.I count it a blessed venture to be a part of a generation that has uncovered miraculous possibilities -through stem cell research!

Posted by: Dorothy Cheek at July 22nd, 2009 10:49 PM

very pleasing to know about this studies, but can ordinary person without money can avail this?

Posted by: aurora rivera at July 23rd, 2009 5:29 AM
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