Robert Schwartz of the University of Houston has devised a method for reprogramming human skin cells into early-stage heart cells. These cells can then be implanted and grown into fully-developed beating heart cells, reversing damage caused by heart attacks. Schwartz's method differs from those of other stem cell researchers in that it requires fewer steps and yields more cells. First, the cells are treated with a virus and are transformed into induced pluripotent stem cells. Schwartz then treats the cells with a second factor to make them cardiac progenitors. Shinya Yamanaka's method to derive iPS cells requires four factors and has a 1 percent success rate, but Schwartz’s only needs one and about 70 percent of the treated skin cells become stem cells. Schwartz and his team also hope to be able to generate brain cells for Alzheimer's patients and pancreatic cells for diabetes patients, and they're working on a method for turning induced stem cells into skeletal muscle cells to treat muscular dystrophy.
Using Skin Cells to Repair the Heart
Mar 05, 2010