Not too long ago the idea of taking, for instance, a skin cell and transforming it into a muscle cell was unthinkable. About 10 years ago, however, revolutionary research showed that it is indeed possible to reprogram differentiated adult cells into other types fully capable of conducting new functions.
Cell reprogramming is a main interest of the lab of Dr. Todd Rosengart, chair, and professor of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, whose research focuses on finding innovative therapeutic approaches for heart failure.
“Heart failure remains the leading cause of death from heart disease,” said Rosengart, DeBakey-Bard Chair in Surgery and professor of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor. “Nearly 5 million Americans can be expected to develop advanced congestive heart failure, and heart transplant or mechanical circulatory support implantation currently are the only options for patients with end-stage heart disease. However, these options are limited. We need to improve how to treat this devastating condition.”
After a heart attack, the parts of the heart muscle that die do not regenerate into new heart tissue; instead, they are replaced by a scar that does not help the heart to beat. “The idea behind cell reprogramming is to coach the heart to heal itself by inducing the scar tissue, which is made mostly of fibroblasts, to change into functional heart muscle,” said Rosengart, professor of heart and vascular disease at the Texas Heart Institute.
Researchers have succeeded at reprogramming fibroblasts from small animals to become heart muscle, with dramatic improvements in heart function. The challenge has been to apply this technology to human cells — human fibroblasts are more resistant to reprogramming. In this study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, Rosengart and his colleagues explored a novel strategy to enhance the reprogramming efficiency of human fibroblasts.Continue reading… “Innovative approach brings cell-reprograming therapy for heart failure closer to reality”