New patient-friendly stem cells for heart research

iPS cellsWe’ve supported scientists at the University of Cambridge who have discovered a brand-new way to make what are known as induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells from routine blood samples.

The research was led by Dr Amer Rana, BHF Professor Nick Morrell and Dr Ludovic Vallier.

iPS cells offer great potential for the future treatment of cardiovascular diseases

The cutting edge of heart research

These iPS cells are at the cutting edge of heart research and could completely change treatments for people with heart disease in the future. This discovery takes the cells a step closer to one day helping heart patients.

iPS cells can be turned into any other cell in the body, including blood vessel cells or heart cells – using different cocktails of chemicals. Scientists can use these cells to study disease, and one day hope to grow them into tissue to repair the damage caused by heart and circulatory diseases. We launched our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal in 2011 to fund more regenerative medicine research that could lead to treatments to repair hearts damaged by heart attack. We urgently need your support to keep funding scientists who are making breakthroughs like this.

Finding good cells

Researchers have struggled to find a good type of cell in the blood that can be turned into a stem cell, and often have made iPS cells from skin or other tissues. Taking skin cells require a surgical procedure, like a biopsy, which can be a problem – particularly for children and older people.

Our Research Advisor, Dr Shannon Amoils, said:

"iPS cells offer great potential – both for the study and potentially the future treatment of cardiovascular diseases. As iPS cells are made from the patient’s own tissue, they can be used to study diseases and hopefully one day to repair damaged tissue without being attacked by the body’s immune system.

"Being able to efficiently produce iPS cells using cells from a blood sample will make it easier for researchers to push this technology forward. But there are still many hurdles to overcome before this kind of technique could be used to treat patients."

We need your donations to make our goal of finding a cure for heart failure into a reality. Please donate to our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal today to help bring hope to millions worldwide.

This exciting research was published in the scientific journal Stem Cells: Translational Medicine.