Scientist from the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at University Health Network in Canada has recently developed the first functional pacemaker cells from human stem cells which can regulate heart beats with electrical impulses.
Pluripotent stem cells have a unique characteristic of differentiating into more than 200 different cells types that make up every tissue and organ in the body.
Sinoatrial node pacemaker cells are the heart's primary pacemaker that is responsible for controlling the heartbeat throughout life. Defects in the pacemaker can lead to heart rhythm disorders that are commonly treated by implantation of electronic pacemaker devices.
Unlike biological pacemakers, electronic pacemaker lack hormonal responsiveness and the inability to adapt to changes in heart size in pediatric patients.
Dr Gordon Keller, Director of the McEwen Centre said, "What we are doing is human biology in a petri dish. We are replicating nature's way of making the pacemaker cell,"
Stephanie Protze, a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Keller said, "You have to determine the right signalling molecules, at the right concentration, at the right time to stimulate the stem cells".