Something to think about, when you wolf down that next slice of pizza:
Damaged skin and liver can often repair themselves, but the heart rarely heals well and heart disease is the world's leading cause of death. Research published today raises hopes for cell therapies, showing that heart muscle cells differentiated from human embryonic stem cells can integrate into existing heart muscle.
“What we have done is prove that these cells do what working heart muscles do, which is beat in sync with the rest of the heart,” says Chuck Murry, a cardiovascular biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, who co-led the research.
The human cells seemed to aid healing: four weeks after the researchers killed regions of the guinea pigs’ hearts to simulate a heart attack, the hearts of animals that received cardiomyocytes exhibited stronger contractions than those that received other cell types. And cardiomyocyte transplants did not seem to cause irregular heartbeats, a common concern for cell-replacement therapy in the heart. In fact, the transplants seemed to suppress arrhythmias.
This is a major breakthrough in stem cell research and heart disease research. Congratulations to Michael LaFlamme and Chuck Murry—both of the University of Washington.
Just as a disclosure: My PhD work was in Chuck Murry's lab, and I have worked in lab with Mike LaFlamme. So, I already thought they were awesome.