I was reading through some articles on developmental biology from Nature, the international weekly journal of science, and i came across a certain article that sparked my interest.
Regenerative medicine: Heart redevelopment, by Richard P. Harvey. In this article it talked about how they are working on creating cardiomyocytes through the use of stem cells along with many different complex steps. They are developing the cardiomyocytes by using 3 different transcription factors (TF) known as Gata4, Mef2c and Tbx5. The Gata TF is thought to help regulate genes in myocardial differentiation and function along with embryogenesis. The encoded Tbx5 protein helps with specification of limb identity and may have a role in heart development. Mef2c TF this gene is involved in cardiac morphogenesis, myogenesis, and vascular development.
They ended up being able to create neonatal mouse cells into cultured cardiomyocyte. The experimenters seen that the cells they created had the properties of cardiomyocytes they were beating, they could identify the myofilaments, and had calcium oscillations similar to those in adult cardiomyocytes. These cells lasted a week in culture and still worked after the transcription factors were turned off.
There is still a lot of work to be done, however this experiment is a step closer and a good start point for further investigation in creating cardiomyocytes for in vitro implantation in heart patients. If they can figure out how to make these cells survive longer and adapt/fuse with the existing tissue and transplant them into heart patients; it would greatly benefit those with heart disease and allow new cells to replace the older/dead cells making the heart work homeostatically.