Researchers lead creation of heart cells

October 25, 2011
Embryoid body grown from genetically modified human embryonic stem cells expressing the green fluorescent protein in cardiac cells

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and now, in a major boost for drug development, scientists will be able to mimic its effects in a petri dish after identifying a new, reliable way of producing heart cells in the laboratory.

Published today in the prestigious journal, , the Monash University-led research shows how human can be consistently produced from , creating a potentially inexhaustible source for research and

Dr. David Elliott, and Professors Andrew Elefanty and Ed Stanley of Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories led the Monash group which collaborated with a number of institutions in and overseas.  

Dr. Elliott said the researchers were able to isolate the heart cells by turning them green. 

"We linked a green fluorescent marker - originally from a jelly-fish - to a gene found in heart cells, causing them to glow," Dr. Elliott said. 

"Using this cell line we have discovered two new cell surface proteins that we can use as 'handles' to allow us to grab only the cardiac cells from cultures containing different cell types. Importantly, we can use these handles to isolate and study cardiac cells grown from the stem cells of heart disease patients, and, in this way model heart disease in a dish.

"This finding is significant because up until now the development of drugs to treat heart disease has been hampered by the lack of a dependable supply of heart cells for experimentation," Dr. Elliott said.

Professor Elefanty said that in the future these markers could be used to pull out heart cells from cultures without having to use genetic modification to make the desired cells visible.

"We are now starting to make significant steps in the search for stem cell based therapies for and our findings will drive further research and discovery in this field," Professor Elefanty said. 

"This breakthrough is the result of more than ten years of work by the world-leading team at Monash and it illustrates the benefits of investing time and resources in stem cell research."

The team, led by Professors Elefanty and Stanley, are using similar strategies to isolate insulin-producing cells for the treatment of diabetes, and blood cells for the treatment of leukaemia.

The study was undertaken by a collaboration of 26 researchers from the Monash School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, in Melbourne, as well as Leiden University Medical Centre and Netherlands Proteomics Institute, in the Netherlands.

The Australian researchers were funded by the Australian Stem Cell Center, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Heart Foundation and Victorian State Government.

Complementary research involving Dr. Elliot, and Professors Stanley and Elefanty was also published today in Nature Biotechnology

Explore further: Heart cells derived from stem cells used to study heart diseases

Related Stories

Heart cells derived from stem cells used to study heart diseases

May 9, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- A research team at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is the first to use heart cells derived from stem cells to specifically study certain genetic mechanisms of heart diseases.

Stem cells from cord blood could help repair damaged heart muscle

October 13, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- New research has found that stem cells derived from human cord blood could be an effective alternative in repairing heart attacks.

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.