Motor neurons transformed from skin cells of a patient suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are seen in this undated handout image. Ordinary skin cells taken from patients with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal and incurable nerve disease, have been transformed into nerve cells in a first step toward treating them, U.S. researchers reported on July 31, 2008. There is no immediate medical use for the motor neurons, the cells that waste away and die in ALS. There is no cure for ALS, whose causes are not clear, and it kills by gradually paralyzing patients. The green staining in this image is a neuronal form of tubulin and shows that these cultures also contain neurons. Many of these neurons also express a motor neuron specific transcription factor called HB9, shown here in red. REUTERS/Kit Rodolfa/John Dimos/Handout. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES.

London - Scientists have for the first time succeeded in taking skin cells from patients with heart failure and transforming them into healthy heart tissue that could one day be used to treat the condition.

The researchers, based in Israel, said there were still many years of testing ahead.

The results mean they might eventually be able to reprogramme patients’ cells to repair their own damaged hearts.

”We have shown that it's possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young - the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born,” said Lior Gepstein from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who led the work.

The researchers, whose study was published in the European Heart Journal on Wednesday, said clinical trials could begin within 10 years


At the moment, people with severe heart failure have to rely on mechanical devices or hope for a transplant. – Reuters