of Central Florida researchers could repair and monitor damaged
hearts without cutting into a patient's chest with the use of
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.
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.
question that we answered was, 'How do you follow these cells in the
lab and find out where they're going?'" said Ebert.
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.
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.
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
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.