Technion researchers build 1st stem cell pacemaker

The cells helped correct a defective heart rate in a pigs heart.

In its Internet edition published today, prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology reports that researchers from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology have built a biological pacemaker by transplanting cells with pacemaker properties.

Together with his laboratory team, Prof. Lior Gepstein MD of the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Institute of Medical Sciences at the Technion Faculty of Medicine created heart cells out of human fetal stem cells, which he implanted in a pigs heart. The pig previously underwent treatment to artificially slow its heart rate. The implanted tissues partially corrected the resulting defective heart rate by in effect constituting a biological pacemaker.

The human stem cells fit in well with the activity of the pigs heart, Geptstein said, adding, Our experiments indicate the potential of human stem cells for correcting heart defects.

The researchers propose using cell therapy as a tool for assisting current electronic pacemakers.

Rappaport Institute dean Dr. Rafael Beyar said, that this was the first time that researchers anywhere had constructed beating heart tissue out of fetal stem cells, and implanted them in a pigs heart.

Geptstein is also a radiologist at the Rambam Medical Center.

Published by Globes [online] - - on September 26, 2004

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