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Scientists may have discovered a new way to repair damaged tissues after they transformed human scar cells into blood vessel cells.
The method appeared to improve blood flow, oxygenation, and nutrition to areas in need.
Cardiovascular scientists at Houston Methodist, with colleagues at Stanford University and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, learned that fibroblasts – cells that causes scarring and are plentiful throughout the human body – can be coaxed into becoming endothelium, an entirely different type of adult cell that forms the lining of blood vessels.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time that trans-differentiation to a therapeutic cell type has been accomplished with small molecules and proteins,” said John Cooke, the study’s principal investigator.
“In this particular case, we’ve found a way to turn fibroblasts into ‘shapeshifters’ nearly on command,” said Cooke.
Cooke said the regenerative medicine approach provides proof-of-concept for a small molecule therapy that could one day be used to improve the healing of cardiovascular damage or other injuries.
The study appears in the journal Circulation.