Scientists create 1st human heart cells paced with light

Researchers at the Stanford University in California have for the first time engineered human heart cells that can be paced with light.

In the study, the researchers inserted a gene found in algae into human embryonic stem cells, then made the cells differentiate into heart muscle cells.

The gene produces a light-sensitive protein called channelrhodopsin-2, which allows the cells to be switched on or off using pulses of light.

The technique could one day be used to activate pacemaker cells derived from a person’s own body.

“We would inject these engineered light-sensitive cells into the faulty heart, and pace them remotely with light,” New Scientist quoted co-author Christopher Zarins as saying.

more recommended stories