Stem Cells Current Affairs

Scientists develops first Biological Pacemaker using Human Stem Cells 

Scientists from Canada have developed the first functional pacemaker cells using human pluripotent stem cells. 

The cells can regulate heart beats with electrical impulses. It paves the way for alternate biological pacemaker therapy.

Key Facts 
  • Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into more than 200 different cell types that make up every tissue and organ in the body.
  • These cells can be coaxed in 21 days to develop into pacemaker cells. For this purpose researchers had used developmental-biology approach to establish a specific protocol for generating pacemaker cells.
  • These human pacemaker cells were tested in rat hearts and have shown to function as a biological pacemaker, by activating the electrical impulses that trigger the contraction of the heart.
Significance of this research
  • Learning how to generate pacemaker cells could help in understanding disorders in pacemaker cells, and provide a cell source for developing a biological pacemaker.
  • Biological pacemakers offers promising alternative to electronic pacemakers and overcome their drawbacks as a lack of hormonal responsiveness and t inability to adapt to changes in heart size in pediatric patients.
Comment

In general Sinoatrial node pacemaker cells are the primary pacemaker of the heart that controls the heartbeat throughout life. Defects in these pacemaker cells can lead to heart rhythm disorders that are commonly treated by implantation of electronic pacemaker devices. A pacemaker is a device which is placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heartbeats using low-energy electrical impulses.

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Scientists successfully grow three-dimensional lungs in lab using stem cells

Scientists in the United States including those of Indian origin have successfully grown three-dimensional (3D) lungs in the lab, using stem cells.

The 3D lungs or organoids was created by coating tiny gel beads with lung-derived stem cells and then allowing them to self-assemble into the shapes of the air sacs found in human lungs.

To show that these tiny organoids mimicked the structure of actual human lungs, researchers compared it with real sections of human lung.

Significance: The laboratory-grown 3D lungs can be used to study diseases including Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) which has been difficult to study using conventional methods and also test possible treatments for the lung diseases.

What is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)?

  • IPF is a chronic lung disease characterised by scarring of the lungs. The scarring makes the lungs thick and stiff.
  • It results in progressively worsening shortness of breath and thus results in lack of oxygen to the brain and vital organs.
  • Though researchers do not know what causes IPF in all cases but cigarette smoking and exposure to certain types of dust can increase the risk of developing the disease.

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