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New Research in Tissue Engineering of cardiomyocytes in children With Heart failure

Summary of Scott Howe`s article "A regenerative approach to heart failure in children?" out of "Vector" Boston Children`s Hospital science and clinical innovation blog.

Research done by Bernhard Kühn, MD, at Boston Children`s Hospital and colleagues support the idea that young people, including infants, not yet past adolescence can create new cardiomyocytes.

New recent research using zebrafish and newborn mice brings up the possibility that some young animals are capable of generating new heart muscle by divisding muscle cells.This correlates with research results in the 1930s and 1940s which suggested that the division of cardiomyocytes might still take place AFTER birth.

According to Kühn, it is difficult to study heart cell growth directly, because healthy hearts cannot be easily found for this purpose.

Kühn`s research, using 36 hearts ranging in age from 0 to 59 years, showed that cardiomyocytes not only continued to divide and increase in numbers, but did so in the hearts that were up to circa 20 years old. The cardiomyocytes increased in number; this activity being highest among infants. This research was recently published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

This research provides a "backbone" for the possible therapy of children with heart failure and cardiomyopathy by stimulating cell production for the purpose of treating damaged hearts. Along the same path, researchers can study heart cell division in the hearts of persons with heart disease in the hope of finding new treatment for children suffering from or threatened by heart defects.

Kühn is aware that, "A lot more work needs to be done." Nevertheless, he is enthusiastic about where this path of research might lead.


Director of Ped Mind Institute
Stefan Bittmann, M.D., M.A.
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