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Skin cell transformation could repair damaged hearts

Skin cell transformation could repair damaged hearts
23rd May 2012

Transforming the skin cells of patients into heart cell muscles could help repair damaged hearts, according to a new study.

Published in the European Heart Journal, the paper claims that by reprogramming skin cells, they can transform into healthy heart muscle cells, capable of integrating with existing heart tissue.

The discovery may circumnavigate the problem of a patient's body rejecting foreign cells, as they would be derived from their own tissue.

However, researchers have warned that there are still a host of obstacles to overcome before the procedure is ready to be used on humans.

It is expected that it could even be five to ten years before clinical trials could start.

Nonetheless, this is the first study to show skin cells from an elderly patient are capable of transforming in healthy heart cells.

Professor Lior Gepstein, leader of the study, explained that what is exciting about the study is that it shows that cells are capable of being "healthy and young" - at a stage equivalent to if a patient where just born.

The discovery is important for the growing number of patients with heart disease in the UK and could prevent the reoccurrence of heart complications.

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