Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ordinary heart cells become 'biological pacemakers' with injection of single gene

Date:
December 16, 2012
Source:
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers have reprogrammed ordinary heart cells to become exact replicas of highly specialized pacemaker cells by injecting a single gene -- a major step forward in the decade-long search for a biological therapy to correct erratic and failing heartbeats.

ICU cardiac monitor. Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute researchers have reprogrammed ordinary heart cells to become exact replicas of highly specialized pacemaker cells by injecting a single gene (Tbx18)-a major step forward in the decade-long search for a biological therapy to correct erratic and failing heartbeats.
Credit: © beerkoff / Fotolia

Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute researchers have reprogrammed ordinary heart cells to become exact replicas of highly specialized pacemaker cells by injecting a single gene (Tbx18)-a major step forward in the decade-long search for a biological therapy to correct erratic and failing heartbeats.

The advance will be published in the Jan 8 issue of Nature Biotechnology and also will be available on the journal's website.

"Although we and others have created primitive biological pacemakers before, this study is the first to show that a single gene can direct the conversion of heart muscle cells to genuine pacemaker cells. The new cells generated electrical impulses spontaneously and were indistinguishable from native pacemaker cells," said Hee Cheol Cho, PhD., a Heart Institute research scientist.

Pacemaker cells generate electrical activity that spreads to other heart cells in an orderly pattern to create rhythmic muscle contractions. If these cells go awry, the heart pumps erratically at best; patients healthy enough to undergo surgery often look to an electronic pacemaker as the only option for survival.

The heartbeat originates in the sinoatrial node (SAN) of the heart's right upper chamber, where pacemaker cells are clustered. Of the heart's 10 billion cells, fewer than 10,000 are pacemaker cells, often referred to as SAN cells. Once reprogrammed by the Tbx18 gene, the newly created pacemaker cells -- "induced SAN cells" or iSAN cells -- had all key features of native pacemakers and maintained their SAN-like characteristics even after the effects of the Tbx18 gene had faded.

But the Cedars-Sinai researchers, employing a virus engineered to carry a single gene (Tbx18) that plays a key role in embryonic pacemaker cell development, directly reprogrammed heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) to specialized pacemaker cells. The new cells took on the distinctive features and function of native pacemaker cells, both in lab cell reprogramming and in guinea pig studies.

Previous efforts to generate new pacemaker cells resulted in heart muscle cells that could beat on their own. Still, the modified cells were closer to ordinary muscle cells than to pacemaker cells. Other approaches employed embryonic stem cells to derive pacemaker cells. But, the risk of contaminating cancerous cells is a persistent hurdle to realizing a therapeutic potential with the embryonic stem cell-based approach. The new work, with astonishing simplicity, creates pacemaker cells that closely resemble the native ones free from the risk of cancer.

For his work on biological pacemaker technology, Cho, the article's last author, recently won the Louis N. and Arnold M. Katz Basic Research Prize, a young investigator award of the American Heart Association.

"This is the culmination of 10 years of work in our laboratory to build a biological pacemaker as an alternative to electronic pacing devices," said Eduardo Marbαn, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and Mark S. Siegel Family Professor, a pioneer in cardiac stem cell research. A clinical trial of Marbαn's stem cell therapy for heart attack patients recently found the experimental treatment helped damaged hearts regrow healthy muscle.

If subsequent research confirms and supports findings of the pacemaker cell studies, the researchers said they believe therapy might be administered by injecting Tbx18 into a patient's heart or by creating pacemaker cells in the laboratory and transplanting them into the heart. But additional studies of safety and effectiveness must be conducted before human clinical trials could begin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nidhi Kapoor, Wenbin Liang, Eduardo Marbαn, Hee Cheol Cho. Direct conversion of quiescent cardiomyocytes to pacemaker cells by expression of Tbx18. Nature Biotechnology, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2465

Cite This Page:

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Ordinary heart cells become 'biological pacemakers' with injection of single gene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121216132509.htm>.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. (2012, December 16). Ordinary heart cells become 'biological pacemakers' with injection of single gene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121216132509.htm
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Ordinary heart cells become 'biological pacemakers' with injection of single gene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121216132509.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) — A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins