Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Gene turns heart cells into 'pacemaker'

17 December 2012, 08:39

Paris - A gene inserted into ordinary heart cells transformed them into rare "pacemaker" cells that regulate cardiac rhythm, according to experiments carried out on lab rodents.

The research is a step toward the goal of a biological fix for irregular heartbeat, which at present is tackled by drugs or electronic pacemakers, its investigators said.

The heart has 10 billion cells but fewer than 10 000 of them are pacemaker cells, which generate electrical activity that spreads to other cardiac cells, making the organ contract rhythmically and pump blood.

The work, reported in the journal Nature Biotechology on Sunday, uses a virus to deliver a human gene called Tbx18, whose normal role is to coax immature cells into becoming pacemaker cells.

Ordinary cells "infected" by the harmless Trojan horse were reprogrammed by Tbx 18 and became these important specialised cells.

"The new cells generated electrical impulses spontaneously and were indistinguishable from native pacemaker cells," said Hee Cheol Cho at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, California.

The promising technique builds on decade-long research into biological pacemakers. So it has so far been tested on guinea pigs and rats.

"We expect this to work in humans. It would be two to three years from now until the first clinical trial, the first target patients being the ones with pacemaker device infection," Cho said in an email to AFP.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...