ABC News recently featured a story on a group of Israeli scientists who have been able to transform human stem cells from the skin into new, healthy, beating heart tissue.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, is the first of its kind. Skin cells from patients aged 51-61 were transformed into healthy heart muscle cells. The new heart muscle cells, cardiomyocytes, grew in a lab dish with existing heart tissues, and within 24-48 hours, both kinds of tissue were beating together as one.
“What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it’s possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young – the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born,” said Dr. Lior Gepstein, lead researcher at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.
While the future is bright with this monumental discovery, it will likely take 5-10 years before these advances can be promoted to clinical trials. Also, while evidence is mounting in heart disease, more research is needed on regenerative injections for joint pain which is affecting Americans in staggering numbers as a result of the “boomer generation” being increasingly active. Nonetheless, the thought of using one’s own stem cells to treat heart disease and many other ailments has kept the world of regenerative medicine “beating” with excitement.