Stem cells may aid heart attack victims

July 30, 2007 at 11:08 AM
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NOTTINGHAM, England, July 30 (UPI) -- British scientists are studying turning stem cells into cardiomyocytes -- the beating cells found in the heart -- as a way to repair heart attack damage.

The University of Nottingham researchers are developing a system that uses electrophysiology to record the electrical properties in a cell. It will be the first time such a system has been used to study cardiomyocyte cells in the United Kingdom.

The investigators hope to eventually use cardiomyocytes to regenerate damaged hearts.

Chris Denning of the University's Wolfson Center for Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering & Modeling said while human embryonic stem cells promise unrivalled opportunities, they are difficult to grow in the lab.

"Our understanding of how to convert them into cardiomyocytes is poor," said Denning. "At the moment we only know how to produce a few million cardiomyocytes, but to treat just one heart attack patient, we may need one billion that all function in the correct way."

Denning and co-investigator Professor Stephen Hill plan to engineer a system for real-time analysis of cardiomyocytes during early development so their properties are better understood.

Topics: Stephen Hill
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