Shalom Life | August 30, 2014

Israeli Scientists Transform Patient's Skin Cells into Healthy Heart-Muscle Cells

Medical breakthrough can make possible to repair patients' organs with own tissue

By: Kristen Hallam

Published: May 23rd, 2012 in Health » Israel

Israeli Scientists Transform Patient's Skin Cells into Healthy Heart-Muscle Cells

Israeli scientists for the first time succeeded in transforming the skin cells of heart-failure patients into healthy heart-muscle cells, suggesting that it may be possible to repair the organ with a person’s own tissue.

The cells from two men with the disease, once genetically reprogrammed, were able to blend in with healthy heart tissue in rats, scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, wrote today in the European Heart Journal, a publication of the European Society of Cardiology. Testing the cells in human hearts may be as long as a decade away, as scientists hone the technique in animal studies, they said.

The finding points to a novel potential source of stem cells, the building blocks of life which can grow into any type of tissue in the body. Using skin cells from the patient would avoid the difficulty of obtaining stem cells from embryos and may limit the risk that the patient’s immune system would reject the transplant, which can occur with cells taken from healthy people and given to the sick, the researchers said.

“We have shown that it’s possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young, the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born,” said Lior Gepstein, a professor of medicine and physiology who led the research, in a statement.

Weak Hearts

Heart failure is a weakening of the heart muscle that can cause fatigue and ultimately death. About 5.8 million people in the U.S. have the condition, according to the National Institutes of Health. More people are surviving heart attacks and, as a result, the number of people living with a damaged heart is increasing, said Nicholas Mills, an intermediate clinical research fellow at the British Heart Foundation and a cardiologist at the University of Edinburgh.

“Unfortunately, the body has only very limited capacity to repair the heart following a heart attack,” Mills said in a statement. “There is therefore an urgent need to develop effective and safe treatments to regenerate the heart.”

The study published today was funded by the Israel Science Foundation, the European Research Council, the Nancy and Stephen Grand philanthropic fund, and the J&J-Technion research grant.

More research is needed to determine whether the cells can be produced in enough quantity for effective treatment and to develop transplantation strategies that reduce the risk of the body rejecting the cells, the scientists said. Refining the procedure will probably require funding from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, said Gepstein, whose team is conducting additional experiments in animals.

“I assume it will take at least five to 10 years to clinical trials if one can overcome these problems,” Gepstein said.

This article first appeared on Bloomberg Businessweek.

Whey Good News for Diabetics Whey Good News for Diabetics TrendingStudy: An Overwhelming 86% of Israelis Are Happy, Despite the Conflict Study: An Overwhelming 86% of Israelis Are Happy, Despite the Conflict TrendingIsraeli Company Combines Style And Technology To Save Lives Israeli Company Combines Style And Technology To Save Lives Trending
 

The Ten Best Curb Your Enthusiasm Episodes

August 29, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau & Daniel Koren
The Ten Best Curb Your Enthusiasm Episodes

While Season 9 may be a mere fallacy, we do have 8 seasons of Larry David's hilariously awkward comedy to keep us company

Read More

'Ray Donovan' Creator Ann Biderman Leaves Show

August 29, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
'Ray Donovan' Creator Ann Biderman Leaves Show

Writer David Hollander will take the helm of the Showtime series starring Liev Schreiber

Read More

Watch the Trailer for Jon Stewart's Directorial Debut [VIDEO]

August 29, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Watch the Trailer for Jon Stewart's Directorial Debut [VIDEO]

'Rosewater' will hit a theater near you in November

Read More

Joaquin Phoenix to Play Marvel's Dr. Strange?

August 29, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Joaquin Phoenix to Play Marvel's Dr. Strange?

Reports indicate that Phoenix is in final talks to play the wizard warrior in a new Marvel franchise

Read More

Bryan Singer Investigated for Alleged Sex Crime

August 29, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Bryan Singer Investigated for Alleged Sex Crime

According to sources, the NYPD is looking into a claim that Singer sexually assaulted a man in his twenties

Read More

Spanish Imam Asks Allah to Destroy All the Jews [VIDEO]

August 29, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Spanish Imam Asks Allah to Destroy All the Jews [VIDEO]

In a Friday sermon, Sheik Saleheoldine al-Moussaoui says the Jews are "by nature treacherous and war-mongering"

Read More

Al-Qaeda Presents: Terrorism 101, A Guide on Making Bombs and Choosing Targets

August 29, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Al-Qaeda Presents: Terrorism 101, A Guide on Making Bombs and Choosing Targets

The terrorist organization has released a detailed booklet on how to make pressure cooker bombs, and which U.S., U.K., and Israeli targets should be attacked

Read More

Putin Compares Ukrainian Army to the Nazis

August 29, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Putin Compares Ukrainian Army to the Nazis

The Russian President condemned Ukrainian troops firing at civilians in eastern Ukraine who he said are "suppressed with force"

Read More

More Headlines