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Medicine

Stem Cells From Fat Create Beating Heart Cells 198

Amenacier writes "Melbourne scientists recently discovered that stem cells isolated from human fat could be made to turn into beating heart muscle cells when cultured with rat heart cells. This discovery may lead to the use of fat stem cells in repairing cardiac damage, or fixing such cardiac problems as holes in the heart. It is proposed that culturing the stem cells with rat heart cells allows them to differentiate into heart muscle through signals from the rat cells. In the future it may be possible to inject/transplant the stem cells into the damaged area and have them naturally differentiate into the type of cell required, with only the natural stimuli provided by surrounding cells, without any danger of rejection by the body. Quoting: 'The next step is to implant the human heart cells onto the damaged heart of a laboratory rat to see whether they repair the heart. Then they would be trialled in higher species such as sheep and pigs before human applications could be considered. Clinical application could be five years away ...'" The Age has a multimedia treatment (Flash) of the discovery.

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