Reprogramming Cells For Heart Regeneration

From the Telegraph: "In as little as five years, researchers hope to be able to coax the heart into regenerating itself, repairing the damage caused by cardiac arrests and old age. ... It works in a similar way to stem cells but instead of the new cells being grown outside the body and then injected back in, the technique simply makes the cells [transform] at the point where they are needed. ... The main problem is that when beating muscles cells - known as cardiomyocytes - die during an attack there is no way to reactivate them and the surrounding connective tissue - known as fibroblasts - cannot take over their role.
Now [researchers] have discovered a way of reprogramming fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes. ... We first have to test if the same factors can convert human fibroblasts to beating heart muscle and then find ways to safely introduce these factors, or small molecules that mimic these factors, into the coronary circulation so they can reprogram the existing fibroblasts in the heart. I envision such factors being loaded into a stent that is placed in the coronary artery and can elute (allow to emerge) the reprogramming factors over 1-2 weeks. ... The team found that they needed a combination of just three substance - Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5 - to efficiently convert fibroblasts into cells that could beat like cardiomyocytes."



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