• The technique, published May 28 in Stem Cell Reports, could be a first step toward using a person's own cells to repair an irregular heartbeat known as cardiac arrhythmia.
  • By screening about 5,000 small molecules, the investigators found one that increased expression of this marker gene. That molecule pushed over 30 percent of differentiating cells to become rare cells, known as Purkinje cells, which are the terminal part of the conduction system and integrate with working muscle cells. Before, fewer than 1 percent of cells differentiated into these Purkinje cells.
  • "This finding suggests we now have the beginnings of the technology needed to produce specialized cells that may be able to repair the precise areas where contraction is faulty in human hearts," Evans said.

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