"Biological Pacemaker" Is in the Works

the MPR take:

Gene therapy may one day replace artificial pacemakers for the treatment of arrhythmias, but it is still years away from being tested in humans. Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles conducted an experiment to see if adenoviral TBX18 gene transfer could create biological pacemaker activity in pigs with complete heart block. Using an approach called somatic reprogramming, researchers injected the TBX18 gene into a small section of the pigs’ hearts; biological pacemaker activity at the injection site was seen starting on day two and continued during the study (14 days). More research will need to be conducted to see if TBX18 gene transfer will work in humans, however this a promising step towards helping patients who suffer from device-related complications.

"Biological Pacemaker" via Gene Therapy
"Biological Pacemaker" via Gene Therapy

Somatic reprogramming by reexpression of the embryonic transcription factor T-box 18 (TBX18) converts cardiomyocytes into pacemaker cells. Biological pacemaker activity, originating from the intramyocardial injection site, was evident in TBX18-transduced animals starting at day 2 and persisted for the duration of the study (14 days) with minimal backup electronic pacemaker use.