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Beating cardiomyocyte  (Source: Paul Burridge)
Researchers say the new method is almost 100 percent efficient

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and the Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a new, nearly 100 percent efficient technique for turning blood cells into beating heart cells. 

Elias Zambidis, M.D., Ph.D., study leader and assistant professor of oncology and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and the Kimmel Cancer Center, along with Paul Burridge, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scientist at Johns Hopkins, and a team of researchers, developed the method for creating simple and virus-free beating heart cells. 

Previous studies used viruses to send genes into cells, which then turned them into stem cells. The problem with this method is that viruses can mutate genes, which may introduce cancer in new cells. 

But now, Zambidis and Burridge have developed a new method for delivering genes to cells without the use of viruses. Instead, the new technique involves the use of plasmids, which are rings of DNA that replicate inside cells and then degrade over time. In addition, the new technique is inexpensive, easy and almost 100 percent efficient. 

They were able to do this by studying approximately 30 papers on other techniques that create cardiac cells. They also drew charts of over 48 different variables that play a role in creating cardiac cells, like enzymes, growth factors buffers and timing. Making sure the stem cells are supplied with a mixture of growth factors, nutrients and the right environmental conditions is a large part of the process. This mixture can be different from laboratory to laboratory, and now, after testing hundreds of different combinations of these variables, Zambidis and Burridge have found four to nine vital recipes for each stage of cardiac development.

"We have recently optimized the conditions for complete removal of the fetal bovine serum from one brief step of the procedure - it's made from an animal product and could introduce unwanted viruses," said Zambidis. 

Researchers then experimented with the new growth medium by coupling it with cord blood stem cells and a plasmid that sends seven genes into the stem cells. An electric pulse was sent to the cells as well, which created tiny holes in the stem cells allowing the plasmids to enter. The plasmids then cause the cell to slip into a "primitive" state, and can change into different cells. These are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). From there, the iPSCs were supplied with the new mixture, which is called the "universal cardiac differentiation system." the cells were then placed in containers where oxygen was reduced to a quarter of "ordinary atmospheric levels," and a chemical called PVA was added to link the cells together. In a matter of nine days, the iPSCs became tiny beating cardiac cells.   

According to results, the mixture worked consistently for 11 different stem cell lines. In each of the 11 cell lines, each plate of cells had around 94.5 percent beating heart cells. It also worked for embryonic stem cells and adult blood stem cells. 

"Most scientists get 10 percent efficiency for iPSC lines if they're lucky," said Zambidis. 

In addition to efficiency, another benefit was that the cost to make the universal cardiac differentiation system was one-tenth cheaper than traditional mixtures used for stem cells. 

The universal cardiac differentiation system took two years to make, and recently, the team created similar methods for neural, vascular and retinal cells. 

This study was published in PLoS One.

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ya need helluvalot of plasmids
By Pirks on 4/11/2011 5:31:14 PM , Rating: 1
to talk to big daddy


Clarification on title
By AnnihilatorX on 4/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: Clarification on title
By HeavyB on 4/11/2011 6:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
Completely untrue.

RE: Clarification on title
By HeavyB on 4/11/2011 6:19:34 PM , Rating: 5
Several papers have been published on how you can make human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from peripheral T cells and peripheral CD34+ blood cells. This paper also wasn't the first to be published doing so without retroviruses. Plenty of inaccuracies in this article, but why bother correcting them.

RE: Clarification on title
By AnnihilatorX on 4/12/2011 6:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
If what you said is true, this article needs correcting/additional info and I have been mislead.

What you mentioned is written in paragrah 7 above.
However, the ONLY mention of stem cell origin in the article is cord blood stem cells, which is from childbirth. I am no expert in biology, and everyone here is I am sure. As you said it may be possible to convert blood cells into iPSCs, but the article did not mention this and hence this lead me to believe that the title is misleading compared to what is being said in the actual article.

RE: Clarification on title
By AnnihilatorX on 4/12/2011 6:56:42 AM , Rating: 2
and everyone here is -> and not* everyone here is

RE: Clarification on title
By Azethoth on 4/11/2011 9:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong, troll. If you would bother to read the article fully you will come upon "It also worked for embryonic stem cells and adult blood stem cells" and instead of freaking the hell out on the first part of the sentence you would be able to read the second part where it mentions adult stem cells.

But of course you do not believe in science, evolution or anything else that is not in your dusty old scriptures so whatever.

RE: Clarification on title
By czarchazm on 4/11/2011 11:23:39 PM , Rating: 3
But of course you do not believe in science, evolution or anything else that is not in your dusty old scriptures so whatever.

is a reply to:

The title makes it sound like you can derive stem cells from blood. The stem cells are derived from umbilical cord blood which is only available during child birth, not just any normal blood running in the body as it won't have many stem cells, if any.

Azethoth, I am not familiar with this person's posting history, but he doesn't mention anything with regards to belief or lack thereof in his post. Why the flame? What he points out is accurate (if misworded), in so far as some cells not being as conducive to iPSC techniques.

RE: Clarification on title
By AnnihilatorX on 4/12/2011 6:47:45 AM , Rating: 2
sigh, I have no faith in people in DailyTech anymore.

I am criticising the title of the article being misleading, and not the paper. Of course the method works for other stem cells, but the title of this DT article suggests using blood alone, can make a beating heart, which is absolutely misleading.

What does it have anything to do with my religious orientation? Who's trolling now?

RE: Clarification on title
By MrBlastman on 4/12/2011 11:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
Cut the anti-religious crap, please. It has NO place in this discussion as the article has NOTHING to do with it. This is a science discussion here. End it, now.

Annihilator was simply pointing out what he thought was confusing about the title. It has been clarified if he reads further that adult blood stem cells were used (which most probably reside in the bone marrow), hence, are readily available.

I think this is an exciting find. The efficiency they have achieved is remarkable. For years, I have been reading stories about stem cells having a high failure rate. To finally have a process that gets around this holds a great deal of promise for many people suffering from ailments or conditions that could strongly benefit from them.

I'd love to read sometime soon of these cardiac cells being implanted into actual hearts of individuals with hugely deteriorated cardiac function--i.e. patents living after suffering major heart attacks.

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