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Medicine Science

Scientists Turn Skin Cells Into Beating Heart Muscle 121 121

An anonymous reader writes "By taking skin cells and turning them into stem cells, a technique that is already well known, researchers at Technion Israel Institute of Technology were able to generate beating heart cells — a medical first. '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,' Lior Gepstein, study author and professor of medicine said."
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Scientists Turn Skin Cells Into Beating Heart Muscle

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  • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:24PM (#40095361) Homepage Journal
    Unless you wear string bikinis, most folks have plenty of skin that never sees the sun. That said, I would expect a cheek swab (the mouth variety) to be a more common way to get those cells.
  • by Kurofuneparry (1360993) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:34PM (#40095431)
    Biochemist medical student here. Propagating genetic errors is certainly a concern here, but the same concerns exist for genetic transfer in breeding generally. While skin cell are exposed to more radiation, the cells preferred for sampling here are typically from buccal (mouth) sources or are relatively deeper than the layers where most melanoma form.
    Honestly, the more prime concerns are with imperfect "stemming" or imperfect conversion to heart cells.
    Then again ... I'm and idiot ....
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:56PM (#40095623) Homepage

    At any rate, this is early on in the program. Nobody is making new hearts just yet. Cancer certainly is an issue but only one of many potential problems.

    The abstract [oxfordjournals.org] in case anybody cares. The real article is behind the usual paywall. Grrr.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:58AM (#40097623)

    This work hs been going on in an adacent lab for a while now.... very promising to hear results like that.

      http://m.circres.ahajournals.org/content/107/9/1042.full [ahajournals.org]

  • by Kurofuneparry (1360993) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:18AM (#40098917)
    While you are correct about many of the concerns from the stemming process, I was mainly talking about somatic mutations (like those caused by gamma radiation for example). The statement I made previously about these somatic mutations propagating no more in stemming than in breeding is still true. Also, the proto-oncogene concern is one that current research is already working toward limiting.
    My main concern with your statement is the argument that stem cells are MORE susceptible to random mutation than somatic cells. This is simply false. You argued that decreased activity is a protective attribute than for stem cells. In fact, most stem cells in the human body are LESS active than somatic cells as somatic cells do the work and (monopotent) stem cells like osteoprogenitor cells are mainly there to replenish and preserve genetic information. It's a biological axiom that sex cells (sperm and ova) have the highest importance in preserving genetic integrity and that's what we see experimentally: the sex cells have BETTER preservation of information, not worse.
    .... Then again ..... I'm an idiot ....

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.