Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Self-healing Hearts
26 February 2015

Self-healing Hearts

Injecting yourself with extracts from animal testicles and other wild potions won't stop you ageing, as some people thought in the 19th century. But little did they know that their fumblings would lead to modern cell therapies – the transplantation of healthy cells into diseased tissue to regenerate it. These fibroblast cells (in red, with nuclei in blue and energy-making centres in green) could one day help repair failing hearts. Fibroblasts act as a biological glue throughout the body by producing elastic fibres and collagen that connect tissues. In the heart, these cells maintain the structure of cardiac muscle, although too many of them can also cause the heart to lose its suppleness. Now researchers have found that the cells might themselves be coaxed into becoming heart muscle cells. And if proven true, they could in future help heart patients avoid transplants of failing valves or even hearts.

Written by Tristan Farrow

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