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Embryonic stem (ES) cell-derived cardiomyocytes: A good candidate for cell therapy applications


  • Rajarshi Pal

    Corresponding author
    1. Human Embryonic Stem Cell Program, Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Manipal University Branch Campus, ? 10 Service Road, Domlur Layout, Bangalore 560 071, India
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    • Stempeutics Research Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., Technology Park Malaysia, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur 57000, Malaysia.

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During the last decade, embryonic stem cells (ESC) have unleashed new avenues in the field of developmental biology and emerged as a potential tool to understand the molecular mechanisms taking place during the process of differentiation from the embryonic stage to adult phenotype. Their uniqueness lies in retaining the capacity of unlimited proliferation and to differentiate into all somatic cells. Together with promising results from rodent models, ESC has raised great hope among for human ESC-based cell replacement therapy. ESC could potentially revolutionize medicine by providing a powerful and renewable cell source capable of replacing or repairing tissues that have been damaged in almost all degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, myocardial infarction (MI) and diabetes. Somatic stem cells are an attractive option to explore for transplantation because they are autologous, but their differentiation potential is very limited. Currently, the major sources of somatic cells used for basic research and clinical trials come from bone marrow. But their widespread acceptability has not been gained because many of the results are confusing and inconsistent. The focus here is on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), using methods to induce their differentiation to cardiomyocytes in vitro. Their properties in relation to primary human cardiomyocytes and their ability to integrate into host myocardium have been investigated into how they can enhance cardiac function. However, important aspects of stem cell biology and the transplantation process remain unresolved. In summary, this review updates the recent progress of ES cell research in cell therapy, discusses the problems in the practical utility of ESC, and evaluates how far this adjunctive experimental approach can be successful.