master heart stem cells cellsStudying with human embryonic stem cells Harvard University scientists able to discovered a master heart stem cell, which con provide new fast and authentic ways for drug development.

Senior author and lead researcher of this ground breaking findings, Dr. Kenneth R. Chien, director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and his colleagues began their work by searching in fetal human hearts for master cells, grandfather cells that give rise to three major types of tissue.

Researchers used embryonic stem cells as  are capable of turning into any cell in the human body, to create the master stem cells. They tagged those cells, and confirmed that the master cells gave rise to three types of cells.

They also identified a family of “intermediate’’ cells, each of which is a mother to a single kind of tissue - giving rise to heart muscle tissue, smooth muscle tissue that contracts to regulate blood flow, or endothelial cells that line blood vessel walls.

Primarily researchers find the presence of master cells in fetal hearts, but found that they decrease in number as the heart develops. They turned to human embryonic stem cells to better understand the cells and their potential applications.

According to Chin, the work will open up the windows for regenerative medicine. In the field of regenerative medicine its being a long desire and hope to find out a solution or tool that can solve the ambiguous, disappointing, marginal, and, in certain cases, negative results in attempts to repair damaged heart tissue using different types of cells.

Using the actual human cells affected which are effected by a disease, instead of animal , could potentially speed up drug development along with accuracy. Testing the drugs on human heart cells will give the chances to alter the defects if any before clinical trials.

Pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline who made a $25 million investment in the Harvard Stem Cell Institute last year, shows interests in using stem cells to achieve  accuracy in drug discovery within a shorter period of time.


This groundbreaking discovery has been published in Nature.