Skin cells were reprogrammed into iPS cells, which were then differentiated
into heart cells. Heart cells are shown. Blue indicates nucle
(January 10, 2016) Scientists at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, Japan, show that skin cells can be used to treat injured hearts.
Following a heart attack or other heart trauma, the heart is unable to replace its dead cells. Patients are often left with little option other than heart transplants, which are rarely available, or more recently cell therapies that transplant heart cells into the patient's heart. In far too many cases, however, the transplanted heart cells do not engraft well, resulting in poor recovery.
One reason for the engraftment problem is the quality of the heart cells. For a typical cell therapy, heart cells are made from different stem cells, but the quality of the heart cells will vary. In particular, the maturation of the heart cells will be different. "Cells of different maturation will be mixed and transplanted together," said Dr. Shunsuke Funakoshi, a scientist at the Center for iPS Research and Applications (CiRA), Kyoto University, and first author of a new study that investigated the optimal maturation of heart cells for the transplant, leading him to wonder if maturation is a factor in engraftment.