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Stem Cell Research

Vitamin C Helps Stem Cells Turn into Heart Cells

20 years, 8 months ago

9755  0
Posted on May 30, 2003, 11 a.m. By Bill Freeman

New research has revealed that vitamin C helps embryonic stem cells transform into heart muscle cells, or cardiac myocytes. Dr Richard Lee of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues mixed embryonic stem cells with a total of 880 "bioactive" substances to see if any of them was able to coax the pluripotent cells into turning into cardiac myocytes.

New research has revealed that vitamin C helps embryonic stem cells transform into heart muscle cells, or cardiac myocytes. Dr Richard Lee of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues mixed embryonic stem cells with a total of 880 "bioactive" substances to see if any of them was able to coax the pluripotent cells into turning into cardiac myocytes. Just one of the 800 substances tested had a positive effect - vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. While the findings are encouraging, the possibility of a heart cell transplant for humans is still some way off. Firstly, the experiment will have to be carried out on human cells to see if vitamin C has the same effect, and then the scientists will have to work out exactly how they can use the cells to help people whose heart muscle has been damaged, for example during a heart attack. "A really big issue is going to be whether we can encourage the heart to fix itself, or whether we will need to implant cells of some sort,"  Lee concluded.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Circulation 2003;107:1912-1916.

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