Last month, Madison, WI-based Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) began shipping heart cells derived from a person’s own stem cells. The cells could be useful to researchers studying everything from the toxicity of new or existing drugs to the electrodynamics of both healthy and diseased cardiac cells.
CDI’s scientists create their heart cells–called iCell Cardiomyocytes–by taking cells from a person’s own blood (or other tissue) and chemically reversing them back to a pluripotent state. This means they are able to grow or can be programmed to grow into any cell in the body.
The science comes from the lab of CDI cofounder and stem-cell pioneer James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin. In 2007, his lab published a study led by postdoc Junying Yu in the journal Science that detailed how to reverse virtually any human cell back to an undifferentiated state known as an induced pluripotent stem cell, or IPS cell. (Japanese physician and geneticist Shinya Yamanaka also created IPS cells from humans and published details in the journal Cell in 2007.)