Posts Tagged ‘insertional oncogenesis’

Heart Patients’ Skin Cells Turned into Healthy Heart Muscle Cells

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


In a scientific first, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have succeeded in taking skin cells from heart failure patients and reprogramming them to transform into healthy, new heart muscle cells capable of integrating with existing heart tissue.

The research, published online yesterday in the European Heart Journal, opens up the prospect of treating heart failure patients with their own, human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to repair their damaged hearts. Since the reprogrammed cells would be derived from the patients themselves, the problem of the patients’ immune systems rejecting the cells as “foreign” could be avoided.  The researchers caution there are obstacles to overcome before it would be possible to use hiPSCs this way in humans, and it could take at least five to ten years before clinical trials could start.

“What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it’s possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young – the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born,” said lead researcher Professor Lior Gepstein, of the Technion Faculty of Medicine, the Sohnis Research Laboratory for Cardiac Electrophysiology and Regenerative Medicine, and Rambam Medical Center.

Limor Zwi-Dantsis, a PhD student in the Technion’s Sohnis Research Laboratory, Prof. Gepstein, and their colleagues took skin cells from two male heart failure patients (aged 51 and 61) and reprogrammed them by delivering three genes or “transcription factors” (Sox2, Klf4 and Oct4), followed by a small molecule, called valproic acid, to the cell nucleus. It is important to note that this reprogramming cocktail did not include a transcription factor called c-Myc, which has been used for creating stem cells, but which is a known cancer-causing gene.

“One of the obstacles to using hiPSCs clinically in humans is the potential for the cells to develop out of control and become tumors,” explained Prof. Gepstein. “This potential risk may stem from several reasons, including the oncogenic factor c-Myc, and the random integration into the cell’s DNA of the virus that is used to carry the transcription factors – a process known as insertional oncogenesis.”

official news release issued by theEuropean Heart Journal, Thursday, May 24, 2012


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