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STEM CELLS: Translational Medicine

Clinical Articles, News & Views

New method to grow heart muscle from stem cells

There may be a new method for producing cardiac muscle from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and/or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), to fulfill the demand for therapeutic applications and drug testing, according to a study1 published recently in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.

By combining small molecules and growth factors, the international research team led by investigators at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai developed a two-step system that caused stem cells to differentiate into ventricular heart muscle cells from hESCs and iPSCs. The process resulted in high efficiency and reproducibility, they say, in a manner that mimicked the developmental steps of normal cardiovascular development.

“These chemically induced, ventricular-like cardiomyocytes (termed ciVCMs) exhibited the expected cardiac electrophysiological and calcium handling properties as well as the appropriate heart rate responses,” said lead investigator Dr Ioannis Karakikes, (Stanford University School Of Medicine, Stanford, USA). Other members of the team included scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and the Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Consortium at the University of Hong Kong.

In addition, using an integrated approach involving computational and experimental systems, the researchers demonstrated that using molecules to modulate the Wnt pathway, which passes signals from cell to cell, plays a key role in whether a cell evolves into an atrial or ventricular muscle cell.

“The further clarification of the molecular mechanism(s) that underlie this kind of subtype specification is essential to improving our understanding of cardiovascular development. We may be able to regulate the commitment, proliferation and differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into heart muscle cells and then harness them for therapeutic purposes,” Dr Karakikes said.

“Most cases of heart failure are related to a deficiency of heart muscle cells in the lower chambers of the heart,” said said Dr Anthony Atala, editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine. “An efficient, cost-effective and reproducible system for generating ventricular cardiomyocytes would be a valuable resource for cell therapies as well as drug screening.”

References

1. Karakikesa I, Senyeia GD, Hansen J, et al. Small molecule-mediated directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells toward ventricular cardiomyocytes. Stem Cells Trans Med. http://dx.doi.org/10.5966/sctm.2013-0110

Published on: December 20, 2013

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