Technique shows promise for healing damaged hearts

Railing with heart-shaped detail

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have used stem cell technology to transform human fibroblasts - which form scar tissue after a heart attack - into beating heart cells.

The transformation was done in a lab and will need to be replicated in large animals and, eventually, human subjects. But it could someday enable doctors to replace scarred tissue with healthy cells, undoing the now-permanent damage of heart attacks.

The Gladstone scientists already had shown they could change fibroblasts into heart cells in mice. They developed a reprogramming technique similar to one used to turn skin cells into stem cells and, from there, just about any other cell in the body.

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