Shalom Life | March 31, 2015

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.

Educational Integration: It's Time to Set an Example for Our Children Educational Integration: It's Time to Set an Example for Our Children TrendingWorld's Biggest Science Conference Taking Place in Israel this Summer World's Biggest Science Conference Taking Place in Israel this Summer TrendingIsraeli Scientists Accurately Determine The Length Of A Day On Saturn Israeli Scientists Accurately Determine The Length Of A Day On Saturn Trending
 

The Iron Dome of Jewish Leadership

March 30, 2015 | By Ambassador Danny Ayalon
The Iron Dome of Jewish Leadership

Yeshiva University has created an "Iron Dome" of Jewish leadership, arming a generation of young men/women with the skills they need to tackle any religious, societal, or communal challenge that lies ahead

Read More

Educational Integration: It's Time to Set an Example for Our Children

March 30, 2015 | By Johanna Arbib-Perugia
Educational Integration: It's Time to Set an Example for Our Children

We must structure the classroom environment and implement a curriculum that supports all children, both disabled and non-disabled

Read More

Comedy Central Taps Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show"

March 30, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Comedy Central Taps Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show"

The 31-year-old South African comedian will take over once Stewart retires later this year

Read More

Hackers Threaten Israel with 'Electronic Holocaust'

March 30, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Hackers Threaten Israel with 'Electronic Holocaust'

New video claims Israeli servers and sites will be "erased" from cyberspace on April 7th

Read More

World's Biggest Science Conference Taking Place in Israel this Summer

March 30, 2015 | By Itamar Eichner
World's Biggest Science Conference Taking Place in Israel this Summer

Dozens of world renowned scientists, Nobel Prize laureates and 400 young people considered the future generation of global science will participate in a major event in Jerusalem this summer

Read More

UJA’s Women’s Philanthropy Celebrates Launch of the Bathurst Street Kitchen Cookbook

March 30, 2015 | By Dan Horowitz
UJA’s Women’s Philanthropy Celebrates Launch of the Bathurst Street Kitchen Cookbook

With over 300 traditional and contemporary recipes, the cookbook offers a rich history of Toronto's Jewish community

Read More

Toronto Professionals, Politicians Show Unwavering Support for Israel and Democracy at ACTION 2015

March 30, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Toronto Professionals, Politicians Show Unwavering Support for Israel and Democracy at ACTION 2015

Over 1,400 young professionals, business leaders, and elected officials (including Toronto Mayor John Tory) arrive at 9th annual event hosted by CJPAC

Read More

More Headlines