Scientists announced yesterday the discovery of cells in the heart that can create new muscle cells, raising hopes that doctors may find dramatic new ways to treat heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death.
The team, led by Dr. Kenneth Chien at the University of California at San Diego, showed that the cells, which are similar to stem cells, can be expanded from just a few hundred in a laboratory dish to more than a million, and these cells can be guided into becoming the pulsing muscle cells that power the heart. The finding, published in today’s issue of the journal Nature, will probably yield new insights into the heart’s development, and might further the quest to regenerate damaged heart tissue — an idea once thought impossible.
“I think this is a very important paper,” said Dr. Leonard Zon, a scientist at Children’s Hospital Boston and president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. “People have not been able to find these cells, and they have been trying very hard.”
Again, this is the kind of research that should be getting more attention, money, chattering-class energy.