Scientists morph skin cells from heart failure patients into healthy cardiac tissue

In another advance for stem cell research, Israeli scientists have figured out how to take skin cells from elderly patients suffering from advanced heart failure and, in a laboratory dish, morph them into healthy, functioning heart tissue, Reuters reports. The research team, based at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, took the cells from two people: a 51-year-old man and a 61-year-man, both of whom suffered from heart failure, and then added three genes and a valproic acid molecule to the cell nucleus. The human induced pluripotent stem cells subsequently differentiated to become heart muscle cells, that in turn could be grown into heart muscle tissue, with existing cardiac tissue in a laboratory dish. Within two to four days, the article notes, both types of tissue were beating together. Human clinical trials could begin within a decade, according to the story, and the hopes are that the technique could help restore heart function. Details are published in the European Heart Journal. Story