Science

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Researchers Turn Stem Cells into Heart Cells

April 29, 2008 10:35 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A team of researchers succeeded in turning embryonic stem cells into key heart cells. Such cells could eventually be used to help treat heart conditions in humans.

30-Second Summary

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Researchers have created three types of human heart muscle cells from embryonic stem cells. Once the heart cells were created, researchers implanted them into mice and found that the cells improved heart function in the rodents.

The researchers who created the heart cells say they could be used to test the effects of drugs or to make artificial tissue to transplant into an actual human heart.

Stem cells, which have the potential to become many other types of cells in the body, have intrigued researchers for years. They believe the cells could be used some day to treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

There are several kinds of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells and stem cells from umbilical cords. Many scientists favor the use of embryonic stem cells in research because they can turn into any tissue in the body. Other cells are more limited in their potential.

But whether the use of embryonic stem cells destroys human life has made this research a hot button issue in political, ethical and religious circles.

Headline Link: Creating heart cells

Background: Approving stem cell research

Opinions: The stem cell debate

Related Topics: Embryonic Stem Cells Created from Skin

Reference: Stem cells explained

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