In one of the Toronto laboratories chock-a-block on University Avenue, a team of scientists has leapt over another hurdle in the pursuit of using human embryonic stem cells to repair damaged organs in humans.
After careful coaxing, the team has grown the earliest form of human heart cells from embryonic stem cells and found a way to direct them into the three major cell types found in the human heart.
These clusters of human heart cells are a feat experts say will accelerate the field of stem cell research in Canada and abroad.
The long-term hope is that the lab-created cells could be used to grow new heart tissue or repair heart muscle that was damaged, for example, during a heart attack.
Almost immediately, the new method of generating the heart cells can be used to make an unlimited supply for researchers to study cell processes and medical applications, said Gordon Keller, director of the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University Health Network in Toronto and lead author of the study.
“The ideal scenario would be that we could take these cells, freeze them and thaw them and use them at will,” he said.

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