Cassandra Feliciano ,
Stanford Daily |
Stanford researchers at the School of Medicine can now march to the sound of a different beat. In a study published yesterday, associate professor of neurobiology Ricardo Dolmetsch and his team unveiled a technique that, for the first time, allows scientists to convert human skin cells to heart cells and develop treatments for cardiac deficiencies.
This novel approach, inspired by a similar experiment conducted by Japanese researchers four years ago, involves reprogramming adult skin cells to a stem-cell-like state, known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), so that they can “differentiate” into other types of cells—in this case cardiomyocytes.
The study focused on treating a genetic disease commonly found among autistic children and tested 20 different drugs on cells suffering from irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmia.