How to heal a broken heart

Japanese scientists can now treat people who have heart disease with cells produced by a novel reprogramming technique.

The study is the second clinical application of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells which are made by inducing the cells of body tissues such as skin and blood to return to an embryonic-like state, from which they can transform into other cell types. Last month, Japan’s health ministry gave doctors permission to take thin sheets of tissue derived from iPS cells and attach them onto diseased human hearts. The team, led by cardiac surgeon Yoshiki Sawa at Osaka University, says that the tissue sheets can help to restore the organ’s muscle when it becomes injured as a result of heart disease from a build-up of plaque or by a heart attack.

The procedure will initially be given to three people over the coming year. The scientists will then seek consent to conduct a clinical trial for around ten patients and if successful, the treatment could then be sold commercially under Japan’s fast-track system for regenerative medicine.

Read more: Nature / Scientific American

Image: Dr. S. Girod, Anton Becker / CC BY 2.5 – Cardiac muscle

This story is taken from the 08 June 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.