Stem Cells Current Affairs

Scientists for first time grow skeletal muscle tissue from stem cells

Scientists from Duke University in North Carolina, US for first time have developed working human skeletal muscle from stem cells in the laboratory.

Stem cells

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide to produce more stem cells. They are found in multicellular organisms. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can be isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts and adult stem cells are found in various tissues which can act as a repair system for the body, replenishing adult tissues.

Key Facts

Scientists had developed human skeletal muscle using adult skin or blood cells that were reprogrammed into a juvenile, versatile state. These cells were induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) which can become any other type of human cell like naturally-occurring stem cells found in embryos.

In this case, the iPSCs were coaxed into becoming skeletal muscle cells. The breakthrough was made possible by unique cell culture conditions in lab and special 3-D scaffold which allowed cells to grow much faster and longer.

The tissue contracted and reacted to external stimuli such as electrical pulses or chemical signals. It was also implanted into adult mice, where it survived and functioned for at least three weeks.

Significance

The development is breakthrough that holds promise for sufferers of degenerative muscular diseases. This technique will allow scientists to grow endless amount of functioning muscle in lab to test to test drugs and gene treatments for degenerative diseases.

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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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