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Biotech Medicine Science

Virus Rebuilds Heart's Own Pacemaker In Animal Tests 45

Posted by timothy
from the old-ways-is-best-ways dept.
hugheseyau writes "A new pacemaker has been built inside a heart by converting beating muscle into cells which can organise the organ's rhythm, U.S. researchers report. Scientists injected a genetically-modified virus into guinea pigs to turn part of their heart into a new, working pacemaker."
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Virus Rebuilds Heart's Own Pacemaker In Animal Tests

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if this would work for the Tin Man...

  • How if someone with this virus dying but his/her heart still work. is he/she still feel the pain? it must be bad for him/her
  • I for one (Score:2, Funny)

    by alendit (1454311)

    welcome our virus-enhanced guinea pig overlords!

  • First Steps (Score:4, Informative)

    by ThunderBird89 (1293256) <(zalanmeggyesi) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:12AM (#42312445)

    First step along the road to creating the Solanum virus [wikipedia.org]?

  • Scared (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Extremus (1043274) on Monday December 17, 2012 @05:16AM (#42312461)

    Am I wrong to be a bit scared about this kind of research?

    • by septianw (2796655)
      no you are not. we must aware of this kind of research.
    • Re:Scared (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hentes (2461350) on Monday December 17, 2012 @06:22AM (#42312701)

      This doesn't look much different from how the heart regulates itself naturally [wikipedia.org]. It's definitely more natural than a machine pacemaker, and also has less chance to fail. The only problem is that it's much harder to control, unless they find a way to hook it up to the nervous system your heartbeat will be pretty much constant.

      • by Zorpheus (857617)
        Maybe it is more like the Atrioventricular node [wikipedia.org] than like the Sinoatrial node. This node is acting as a reserve. This triggers a contraction of the muscles at a lower frequency, only if there was no contraction triggered by the Sinoatrial node.
    • by ultranova (717540)

      Am I wrong to be a bit scared about this kind of research?

      Hard to say, since you didn't explain why you are. Explain your reasons, then we can discuss whether they make sense or not.

      • by Extremus (1043274)

        Well said. My fear is that this sort of virus engineering could create deadly viruses that could get out of control. Basically because we don't know enough about viruses to be able to engineer a on-demand vaccine to any possible kind of virus. In my computer scientist kind of mind, I believe that we should only play with this kind of stuff if we can undo any kind of problem that can arise from playing with it. I know that science doesn't work like that, and neither I am saying this kind of research should

  • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:57AM (#42313423)

    Interesting science but couldn't you do basically the same thing but with stem cells and thus avert the possible viral contagion/FUD/ethics issues?

    • I'm fairly certain their are FUD and Ethics issues with stem cells since most of what I've read indicates a preference for embryonic stem cells. This neatly dodges some FUD and Ethics issues, in favor of some that are potentially less difficult to get around.

      Can't do much in science these days without confronting FUD and ethics issues, and the risk of viral contagion are pretty low, since this kind of viral manipulation has been going on in labs for a while now without incident.
  • The implications of this treatment would be clearer if they identified which animals they used as guinea pigs.
  • The novelty in this work comes from using this gene to restore pacemaker function, ie: the headline should read "Delivery of the gene Tbx18 to heart rebuilds damages pacemaker cells in animal tests". Use of a virus to deliver a gene is a routine procedure in the lab and has been done thousands and thousands of times... the current headline makes it sound like some kind of virus is out there that can improve your heart function, should you happen to be sneezed on by the right person.

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