Using a unique recipe of genes, a team of researchers in California were able to convert fibroblasts into heart muscle, repairing heart damage in mice and pointing to a future new therapy for millions of heart attack victims.
The University of California's Deepak Srivastava says the animal study demonstrates that loading a trio of genes--Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5--into stents could be used to spur the creation of new muscles able to regenerate damaged hearts. By tapping cells already in the organ, explains the investigator, the team was able to improve on stem cell transplants, which have shown modest improvements in clinical trials. And Srivastava adds that the new treatment could be in the clinic in as little as five years.
"The ability to reprogram fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes has many therapeutic implications," explained Dr. Srivastava, whose work appears in Cell. "Half of the cells in the heart are fibroblasts, so the ability to call upon this reservoir of cells already in the organ to become beating heart cells has tremendous promise for cardiac regeneration."
"It points to a whole new way of potentially doing therapy," Harvard's Chad Cowen tells Bloomberg.