Scientists have developed the first functional pacemaker cells from human stem cells which can regulate heart beats with electrical impulses, paving the way for an alternate, biological pacemaker therapy.
This biological pacemaker therapy was made from McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at University Health Network in Canada show how human pluripotent stem cells can be coaxed in 21 days to develop into pacemaker cells. These human pacemaker cells were tested in rat hearts and were shown to function as a biological pacemaker, by activating the electrical impulses that trigger the contraction of the heart.
Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into more than 200 different cell types that make up every tissue and organ in the body. Defects in the pacemaker can lead to heart rhythm disorders that are commonly treated by implantation of electronic pacemaker devices.
This was achieved by testing different signaling molecules at different times throughout the 21 days to guide the cells towards their goal."You have to determine the right signaling molecules, at the right concentration, at the right time to stimulate the stem cells,"said Stephanie Protze a post-doctor in the laboratory of Keller. The study was published in Nature Biotechnology journal.