Reprogramming Skin Cells Into Heart Muscle Cells
Physicians and scientists at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, working collaboratively with the University of Houston (UH), Texas A&M Health Science Center in Houston and Baylor College of Medicine, have shown a new way to convert human skin cells into beating heart cells, according to an article being published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
“One of the great needs in repairing the human heart is to find a practical and safe means of generating new heart muscle cells”
Researchers believe this is to be an important new and unique step toward being able to repair damage from heart attacks in human hearts, which on their own have very little regenerative capabilities.
The team, led by Robert J. Schwartz, PhD, director of Stem Cell Engineering at THI and director of UH’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics, used human skin cells called fibroblasts, and treated them with ETS2 and MESP1, two human genetic transcription factors that play important roles in the genetic network that produces cardiovascular tissues.
The skin cells were converted into progenitors of “cardiomyocytes” – beating heart muscle cells – within a period of weeks. Progenitors can differentiate to form one or more kinds of cells. Read More