Creating Smooth Muscle Cells from Skin Cells

Here is another example of work on creating patient-specific cells to order, one of the necessary building block technologies needed for an industry that constructs organs and other larger masses of tissue in the body: researchers have "discovered a method of generating different types of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) - the cells which make up the walls of blood vessels - using cells from patients' skin. ... Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. These deaths are mainly caused by the hardening and subsequent blockage of blood vessels due to the accumulation of fatty materials, a condition called atherosclerosis. As not all patients are suitable for conventional stenting or bypass treatment, an option in the future may be to grow new blood vessels to bypass their own blocked vessels. The [team] worked with embryonic stem cells and reprogrammed skin cells, collectively known as human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), which have the potential to form any cell type in the body. They discovered a method of creating all the major vascular smooth muscle cells in high purity using hPSCs which can also be easily scaled up for production of clinical-grade SMCs. This is the first time that such a system has been developed and will open the door for comparative studies on different subtypes of SMCs to be carried out, which are otherwise extremely difficult to obtain from patients."

Link: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-cambridge-team-smooth-muscle-cells.html

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