Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, have used human embryonic stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) to restore heart function in macaque monkeys with heart failure. The researchers hope that their achievement could pave the way for development of a similar treatment for human patients.

The macaque studies showed that the transplanted hESC-CMs developed into ventricular myocytes and formed electromechanical junctions with the animals’ own heart tissue, resulting in significant improvements in left ventricular function, and so the ability of the heart to pump blood.  “In some animals, the cells returned the hearts’ functioning to better than 90% of normal,” comments Charles Murry, M.D., professor of pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who headed the research team, which included collaborating scientists in the U.S., Ireland, Russia, and Taiwan. This should give hope to people with heart disease.” Dr. Murry is also a professor of medicine in …