Cambridge team first to grow smooth muscle cells from patient skin cells

A Cambridge University research team has for the first time discovered a method of generating different types of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) - the cells which make up the walls of blood vessels - using cells from patients' skin. This work could lead to new treatments and better screening for cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. These deaths are mainly caused by the hardening and subsequent blockage of blood vessels due to the accumulation of fatty materials, a condition called atherosclerosis. As not all patients are suitable for conventional stenting or bypass treatment, an option in the future may be to grow new blood vessels to bypass their own blocked vessels.

The team from Cambridge worked with and reprogrammed skin cells, collectively known as (hPSCs), which have the potential to form any cell type in the body. They discovered a method of creating all the major vascular in high purity using hPSCs which can also be easily scaled up for production of clinical-grade SMCs. This is the first time that such a system has been developed and will open the door for comparative studies on different subtypes of SMCs to be carried out, which are otherwise extremely difficult to obtain from patients.

The scientists created three subtypes of SMCs from different which they reproduced in the culture dish and showed that the various SMC subtypes responded differently when exposed to substances that cause vascular diseases. They concluded that differences in the embryonic origin play a role in their susceptibility to diseases and may play a part in determining where and when common vascular diseases such as aortic aneurysms or atherosclerosis develop.

Dr. Alan Colman, Principle Investigator of the Institute of Medical Biology under A*STAR and Executive Director of the Singapore Stem Cell Consortium, said, "This is a major advance in vascular disease modelling using patient-derived stem cells. The development of robust methods to make multiple, distinct smooth muscle subtypes provides tools for scientists to model and understand a greater range of vascular diseases in a culture dish than was previously available. It is a significant stride forward in being able to construct new blood vessels which will benefit a whole range of patients including those with cardiovascular diseases, renal failure and genetic disorders such as Marfans Syndrome that affect the normal function of their blood vessels."

More information: The paper "Generation of human vascular smooth muscle subtypes provides insight into embryological origin-dependent disease susceptibility" was published on Nature Biotechnology's website on 15 January. www.nature.com/nbt/journal/vao… t/full/nbt.2107.html

Provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Protein identified that plays role in blood flow

Sep 18, 2008

For years, researchers have known that high blood pressure causes blood vessels to contract and low blood pressure causes blood vessels to relax. Until recently, however, researchers did not have the tools to determine the ...

Gene directs stem cells to build the heart

Jul 02, 2008

Researchers have shown that they can put mouse embryonic stem cells to work building the heart, potentially moving medical science a significant step closer to a new generation of heart disease treatments that use human stem ...

Recommended for you

Renal denervation reduces recurrent AF after ablation

21 hours ago

Renal denervation reduces recurrent atrial fibrillation (AF) when performed with pulmonary vein isolation ablation in patients with AF and hypertension, according to research presented at ESC Congress today by Dr Alexander ...

User comments