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Discov Med. 2005 Feb;5(25):11-7.

Restoration of heart functions using human embryonic stem cells derived heart muscle cells.

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Sohnis Family Research Laboratory for the Regeneration of Functional Myocardium, Department of Biophysics and Physiology, the Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 31096, Israel.


Extract: Recent advances in molecular and cellular biology and specifically in the areas of stem cell biology and tissue engineering have paved the way for the development of a new field in biomedicine, regenerative medicine. This exciting approach seeks to develop new biological solutions, using the mobilization of endogenous stem cells or delivery of exogenous cells to replace or modify the function of diseased, absent, or malfunctioning tissue. The adult heart represents an attractive candidate for these emerging technologies, since adult cardiomyocytes have limited regenerative capacity. Thus, any significant heart cell loss or dysfunction, such as occurs during heart attack, is mostly irreversible and may lead to the development of progressive heart failure, one of the leading causes of world-wide morbidity and mortality. Similarly, dysfunction of the specialized electrical conduction system within the heart may result in inefficient rhythm initiation or impulse conduction, leading to significant slowing of the heart rate, usually requiring the implantation of a permanent electronic pacemaker. Replacement of the dysfunctional myocardium (heart muscle) by implantation of external heart muscle cells is emerging as a novel paradigm for restoration of the myocardial electromechanical properties, but has been significantly hampered by the paucity of cell sources for human heart cells and by the relatively limited evidence for functional integration between grafted and host cells. The recently described human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines may provide a possible solution for the aforementioned cell sourcing problem.

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