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Gene Therapy Converts Heart Cells Into "Biological Pacemakers"

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the tick-tock dept.

Medicine 26

Zothecula (1870348) writes Pacemakers serve an invaluable purpose, by electrically stimulating a recipient's heart in order to keep it beating at a steady rate. The implantation of a pacemaker is a major surgical procedure, however, plus its presence in the body can lead to complications such as infections. Now, for the first time, scientists have instead injected genes into the defective hearts of pigs, converting unspecialized heart cells into "biological pacemakers." Research Paper (abstract, full text paywalled).

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Progress (4, Interesting)

s3anister (3548601) | about 3 months ago | (#47487965)

It's science like this that makes me hopeful for the future. As someone who in their 20s suffers from heart problems I certainly hope developments like this which change the base nature of cells can treat my condition.

Re:Progress (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488027)

Another Slashdot sociopath. Does it make you "feel hopeful for the future"? What about the pigs? Do they not have lives just the same as yours? Do they not love their lives as much as you love yours? As a sociopath who can't feel the suffering of others, obviously you can't love your life as much as they love theirs, because being a sociopath is unnatural.
Of course, you wouldn't happen to be a vivisectionist shill, would you... we all believe that you "suffer from heart problems" and just happened to be the first post...
Animal 'research' DELAYS human cures, because animals are different to humans.
Why is there no video of what they did to these poor animals? Could it possibly be because the public would be horrified? Why aren't 'researchers' all over the planet video recording their 'research' procedures, seeing as it's incredibly cheap to do, and provides a very clear record of exactly how they performed their 'research'?

Vivisection is medical fraud. But Slashdot is full of selfish sociopaths who couldn't care less if a million animals were tortured to death in front of them, as long as the poor little Slashdotters didn't have to suffer.

Re:Progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488203)

Almost all medical research depends on animal testing. But I suppose in your perfect world, new drugs and procedures would be tested on humans first, and plenty of people would be killed or permanently disabled.

Re:Progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488287)

Slashdot is full of selfish sociopaths who couldn't care less if a million animals were tortured to death in front of them, as long as the poor little Slashdotters didn't have to suffer.

Nutter alert! All animals are equal, except some are more equal than others. Humans >> Pigs, for all kinds of reasons.
Large pigs are dangerous animals. These same pigs that you weep so illogically for, if slightly hungry, would eat a helpless human alive without any compunction and without any discussion about ethics. Pigs don't have ethics discussions. They eat their young, too.

Re:Progress (3, Funny)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 3 months ago | (#47488455)

Also, bacon tastes REALLY good.

Re:Progress (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | about 3 months ago | (#47489107)

Posting as an AC says you REALLY believe in your cause.

Re:Progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491437)

mmmm, bacon!

Re:Progress (1)

s3anister (3548601) | about 3 months ago | (#47492243)

Well that's the first time I've ever been called a sociopath for wanting scientific progress that helps others and myself. Thanks for the kind words, though.

Re:Progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47501987)

As an actual medical researcher, I can tell you that we know animals are different from humans. Still, animal research gives us a good idea of where to start, and generally tells us if something won't work (but not necessarily that it will work in humans). Testing things in humans from the start would dramatically delay medical research. You don't know what you're talking about.

Re:Progress (2)

fuego451 (958976) | about 3 months ago | (#47490625)

For now, I can tolerate my atrial fibrillation but being nearly age 70 that may not last for long and I really don't want a pacemaker. Hopefully, I can get some new SA node genes and you can get what you need some day soon.

Re:Progress (2)

Chewbacon (797801) | about 3 months ago | (#47492775)

Pacers won't help afib except for ablating the av node with rapid rates. Have you talked to your ep about a pulmonary vein isolation (afib ablation) being an option?

Re:Progress (1)

fuego451 (958976) | about 3 months ago | (#47501807)

Doc was talking about a newer pacemaker/defibrillator device I believe (I should have specified such). At the time I, wasn't interested. I've been cardioverted once which lasted about a year. I'll definitely look into the PVI solution.

And What Of the Gay Gene? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47487983)

When will the republican platform finally have somthing they can point to that really works to fix gays?

Re:And What Of the Gay Gene? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488051)

There is no 'gay gene', that was a LIE invented by homosexuals so that they could continue to FORCE their insanity on the rest of us, and force us all to put up with them and their sick, degraded practices. Most gays are depraved and perverted individuals who have hundreds, if not thousands, of random sexual encounters with STRANGERS in public toilets (how romantic) and other public places. They are also far more likely to be paedophiles than heterosexuals:
30% or more of the victims of paedophiles are boys.
Only 1% of the male population is homosexual.

Please explain.

Re:And What Of the Gay Gene? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488109)

sigh

Re: And What Of the Gay Gene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488317)

I thought that vivisection guy up there was good, but these just keep getting better. Tell us more about what you know of genetics...

Re: And What Of the Gay Gene? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488369)

I thought that vivisection guy up there was good, but these just keep getting better. Tell us more about what you know of genetics...

Right LoL :) It must be Troll Saturday or something. Keep the idiot comments coming boys!

Re:And What Of the Gay Gene? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 3 months ago | (#47488461)

Please explain.

You're ignorant and have horribly inaccurate facts?

Re:And What Of the Gay Gene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47488333)

When will democracy finally have somthing they can point to that really works to fix republicans?

FTFY

Re:And What Of the Gay Gene? (1)

graphius (907855) | about 3 months ago | (#47489067)

When will democracy finally have somthing they can point to that really works to fix politicians?

FTFY

FTFY again

Heart warming (2)

blackt0wer (2714221) | about 3 months ago | (#47488987)

Advances like this will unquestionably lead to better patient outcomes following heart failure.

Very nice. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 months ago | (#47489029)

As long as you don't get a couple of thousand pacemakers around the body, usually called 'cancer'.

It's a start (3, Interesting)

Chewbacon (797801) | about 3 months ago | (#47489083)

Cloning sinus nodes will help patients with sick sinus syndrome. You'll still need devices to help those in complete heart block (but could fix if you grow an AV node or perkinje fibers), ICDs for deadly arrhythmias, and biventricular devices for cardiac resync therapy. But if you clone an AV mode or a His bundle, will they connect to the perkinje network? A rep from Medtronic said this could put them out of business. Despite the Benjamins, this will be better for patients as a less painful procedure and likely less infections. I hope they answer all the questions and make this work. This will be really good for young patients who would no longer have to have a device change every 8-12 years or worry about wires going bad in their lifetime.

Re:It's a start (1)

Japie_H (997237) | about 3 months ago | (#47498897)

This does work in complete heartblock. They injected their adenoviral construct into the right ventricle, in fact they tested this approach in pigs with complete heartblock (as per title of the paper).

Having said that, this is not the first time (or the only approach for which there is prove of principle) to create a biological pacemaker in big animals. And there are many considerations to take into account, a basic one is the different sequence of cardiac activation and how this influences pump function. With an electronic pacemaker you can reposition the lead, program it differently (timing, pulse strength etc.), but with gene-therapy you just have to hope for the best. Also, cloning a sinoatrial node/AV-node is not a simple matter as they are both highly complex structures, composed of multiple cell types. While definitely interesting gene therapy approaches to create a biological pacemaker have a long way to go.

Lovely, lovely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47490037)

Reprogramming cells. Now THAT I can understand.

Hope this pans out (4, Interesting)

fatboy (6851) | about 3 months ago | (#47491115)

My daughter has complete congenital heartblock due to exposure to SSa/Ro antibodies. (My wife had undiagnosed Sjogren's syndrome) She has had a pacemaker most of her life, with her first pacemaker implanted at 12 days. I'm very excited about this and hope that one day doctors could grow her a new AV node,

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