Dr. Srivastava and his team began reprogramming fibroblasts, or scar- forming cells, in heart muscles of live mice. Fibroblasts secrete extracellular matrix required for the formation of connective tissue and other fibers. These heart muscle fibers had once been damaged by heart attacks. Heart attacks cause these fibers to become encased in scar tissue and cause cells in that area to stop beating. A new treatment has involved a “cocktail of genes” in order to regenerate or reverse the damage done by myocardial infarction.
Dr. Srivastava and his colleagues also began injecting the same therapy of three genes into fibroblasts in foetal heart cells, embryonic stem cells, and neonatal skin cells in petri dishes. Dr. Srivastava reported low numbers of transformed cells but at least a partial transformation of 20 % were capable of transmitting electrical signals.
By using a combination of genes the doctors have managed to turn human fibroblasts into heart cells that conduct electrical signals in lab petri dishes. This is an incredible feat. The ability to take a muscle that was once destroyed and restore it for a better function is just remarkable. Although the success is low at the moment this just brings scientists a step closer in the practice of cardiovascular medicine. I really thought this article to be positive. Just knowing we are a bit closer at helping people with heart disease is really fantastic.