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Can firefly stem cells help repair damaged hearts? Sho'nuff!

Steven Ebert  (Source: cdn.physorg.com)
Healthy heart muscle glows brighter and brighter as stem cells develop

University of Central Florida researchers could repair and monitor damaged hearts without cutting into a patient's chest with the use of glowing "firefly" stem cells

These stem cells, which are created with the same exact enzyme that makes fireflies glow, were engineered by Steven Ebert, an associate professor in UCF's College of Medicine. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

As the "firefly" stem cells develop into healthy heart muscle, they glow brighter and brighter, which allows researchers to watch and determine if the stem cells are working and where exactly they are. To do this, a special camera lens is used under a microscope to see the stem cells without ever having to cut into the patients chest. 

"The question that we answered was, 'How do you follow these cells in the lab and find out where they're going?'" said Ebert. 

Up until now, researchers were unsure as to why stem cells "morph" into organs where they are transplanted. They were also unsure of how fast it takes stem cells to do it. But with Ebert's research and use of "firefly" stem cells, these glowing stem cells can be observed step-by-step. 

According to Ebert, the next step in this type of research would be to use these stem cells in a disease model to observe how they heal a damaged heart and determine what sort of environment would help these stem cells become most successful. 

Figuring out how these stem cells repair and regenerate heart tissue could help the 17.6 million Americans dealing with coronary disease. In addition, with the use of "firefly" stem cells, the monitoring of the stem cells would not require cutting into the chest anymore. 

This study, titled "Generation of Novel Reporter Stem Cells and Their Application for Molecular Imaging of Cardiac-Differentiated Stem Cells In Vivo," can be found in this month's Stem Cell and Development Journal.



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Somebody call PETA!
By nstott on 9/29/2010 3:02:37 PM , Rating: 2
Tiffany, how can you support this gross miscarriage of environmental justice?! Those poor, oppressed fireflies!




RE: Somebody call PETA!
By Tiffany Kaiser on 9/29/2010 4:14:35 PM , Rating: 3
Oh yes, they probably have millions of fireflies stuffed in jars just waiting to have their magical glowing enzymes extracted whenever this procedure calls for it. They couldn't possibly replicate this enzyme in a lab. *rolls eyes*

Yes, I noted your sarcasm. ;)


RE: Somebody call PETA!
By JonnyDough on 9/30/2010 12:10:50 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly, I think they need to start researching better ways to utilize kittens and bunnies to save lives. There has to be some viable enzyme or something there somewhere!


RE: Somebody call PETA!
By sleepeeg3 on 10/1/2010 12:45:13 AM , Rating: 2
We should experiment to be sure...


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