UW Heart Stem Cell Study Among AHA's Top Ten

In 2009, a group of cardiovascular researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health proved that functional human heart muscle cells can be produced from genetically reprogrammed skin cells.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the discovery was one of the ten most important research advances for cardiovascular disease and stroke for the year.

Dr. Timothy Kamp, a UW professor of medicine, in collaboration with stem cell pioneer Dr. James Thomson, led the team that demonstrated that human induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells could be differentiated into contracting cardiac cells.


The team's findings raise the possibility that a patient's own skin cells could someday be used to repair damaged heart tissue.

"It's certainly an honor to have our research recognized by an organization devoted to the same goal we are-keeping patients' hearts healthy," says Dr. Kamp. "Much more research is needed before this type of stem cell can be used clinically, but there is significant promise that these cells may provide a powerful new treatment for heart failure and other degenerative diseases of the heart."

The AHA doesn't assign rank to the research advances on its annual list. Other notable advances included studies documenting the effectiveness of controlling calories in maintaining heart health, the effectiveness of oral blood thinners in patients with stroke and atrial fibrillation and the impact of smoke-free legislation on reducing heart attacks.